Pain management study launched for patients with dementia
The new study, led by Professor Dawn Dowding at the University of Leeds, with Professor Michelle Briggs at our University and University College London, the University of Manchester and Glasgow Caledonian University, will examine how best to detect and manage pain in people with dementia on acute hospital wards, following an announcement of funding from the Department of Health.
Significantly, the study proposes to explore how carers can be more involved in helping improve the care patients' receive.
At the moment it is difficult for staff working in hospital settings to accurately find out the cause of distress in people with dementia.
Hospital patients who have dementia may not be able to communicate well verbally and may not be able to remember the reasons why they have pain or for how long it has lasted. This makes it even harder for staff to recognise pain, where the pain might be and what might be causing it.
Professor Briggs commented: "I will be contributing pain research and systematic review expertise to the research team and I am looking forward to working with a large multidisciplinary team to focus on improving the pain management for people with dementia. This builds on my previous research in this field."
Professor Dowding said: "Detecting and managing pain is crucial in improving levels of care. We know that experiencing pain can cause considerable distress and may lead to a number of other problems such as poor sleep and problems with mobility. We need to help staff recognise when a person with dementia is in pain, and then give them guidance on how to treat that effectively."
Professor Dowding believes the experience and understanding carers will be a key part of the process: "We need to build on the carers' knowledge of the person with dementia and explore how carers can be more involved with clinical staff in identifying, helping to manage and recording pain. This study is a vital step towards enhancing the care for patients with dementia because it involves the very people who are best placed to support improvement."
The study has been funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) as part of the Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme, which funds research to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of the NHS, including evaluations of how the NHS might improve delivery of services.