NeuRA researchers secure MRFF funding to improve the lives of people living with pain

Researchers with conjoint appointments between Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and UNSW Sydney have been awarded over $2.4 million in the latest round Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) funding to improve treatment and care for people living with various pain conditions. 

Emotional recovery program for chronic pain

Professor Sylvia Gustin from UNSW Science and NeuRA was awarded $1.46 million for a randomised controlled trial to investigate the efficacy of the Emotional Recovery Program (ERP), an eHealth program for people with chronic pain.

Difficulties in emotional regulation are key to chronic pain therapy. The ERP, developed by Professor Sylvia Gustin and Nell Norman-Nott, is focused on improving emotion regulation in people with chronic pain by integrating an explicit evidence-based emotion-regulation approach from Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

The web-based nature of the ERP ensures its easy accessibility for people with chronic pain who often face mobility restrictions or live in remote and rural communities with limited access to pain services.

This project involves a collaboration between clinician researchers, health economists, technologists and 10 PHNs/​LHDs/​hospitals across Australia (NSW, SA, Victoria, WA), working together in a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of an emotion-focused therapy: the Emotional Recovery Program (ERP).

Our novel telehealth Emotional Recovery Program will support people with chronic pain across Australia including those in regional, rural, and remote areas where access to pain treatment is limited,” Prof. Gustin said.

Difficulties in regulating emotions are one of the most disruptive features of chronic pain. Our novel telehealth Emotional Recovery program will equip individuals with valuable skills to effectively manage their emotions and cope with flare-ups, resulting in enhanced functional abilities and an overall improvement in their chronic pain condition.” 

New treatments for chronic low back pain

Conjoint Senior Lecturer Aidan Cashin from NeuRA and UNSW Medicine & Health was awarded $1 million for a trial, RESOLVE‑D, that aims to implement new treatments for low back pain.

Chronic low back pain is, an intractable health problem and the single largest contributor to the Australian disability burden.

Almost four million Australians live with chronic low back pain and current interventions fail to provide what people need; interventions that that are safe and have long term benefits, rather than providing short term pain relief only,” Dr Cashin said.

RESOLVE‑D aims to accelerate the research translation of graded sensorimotor retraining, a new non-drug intervention that provides sustained benefits to people with chronic low back pain.

Our group is at the forefront of developing, testing, and translating non-pharmacological therapeutic interventions for chronic pain,” Dr Cashin said.

The results of the trial are expected to provide a major advance in chronic low back pain management.”

13 February 2024



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