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Approved Research

Chronic pain prognostication

Principal Investigator: Dr Scott Thompson
Approved Research ID: 83292
Approval date: April 29th 2022

Lay summary

A curious thing about chronic pain is that two people can suffer the same acute trauma or have the same age-related structural deterioration but one person will develop chronic pain and the other will not. Frustratingly, the underlying reasons are unclear. This, in part, stems from the complex nature of chronic pain which is influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors that prime the body to intensify and maintain pain. These factors include things like smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, exercise habits, sleep, nutrition, employment status, age, sex, cultural background, history of trauma and heritable factors. While these factors have been studied by many researchers, the diversity and complexity of the interaction between these factors have made it difficult to reliably identify sets of factors that predict chronic pain outcomes. To create a tool that is clinically relevant, all of the aforementioned factors need to be considered simultaneously on a group large enough to support modern analysis methods. The UK Biobank is an unprecedented health trajectory study which enable this approach with baseline (2006-2010) information about the participants followed by a comprehensive pain survey in 2019. The application of modern analytical techniques allows for all of the factors mentioned above to be considered at the same time to identify people with high risk for i) developing chronic pain, ii) developing high-impact pain, and iii) recovering from pain (our study aims). Given the complex nature of these analysis, we anticipate the project duration to be 3 years. These results are expected to have a positive public health impact because they are likely to provide a strong evidence-based framework for future clinical guidelines for reducing chronic pain development, severity, and duration.