Health Research

Health research news, events and info for the South West

Pain stories: Young people with pain and their families needed to talk about how they make sense of pain

📥  HealthResSW

Researchers from the University of Bath are interested in talking to young people who experience pain and their families to help us understand what it is like for individuals and their families to live with pain and to learn more about how pain is understood.

Existing research studies have shown that living with ongoing pain can pose different challenges for young people and their parents as well as for other family members. However, what we know little about is how young people who experience pain make sense of their pain and what it is actually like to live with pain on a daily basis. Additionally, we also little about how pain in young people impacts on other family members and how pain is understood by parents and siblings.

In this study, Dr Abbie Jordan and Dr Elaine Wainwright are interested in asking young people and their family members to tell us how they make sense of living with pain and its impact on family life. Using Skype, Dr Jordan and Dr Wainwright will conduct interviews with young people and their families to understand more about how pain is understood within the family and how it impacts on the lives of individuals within the family.

As the study is focused on the experiences of family members, the researchers are keen to talk to:

  • young people aged 11-20 years who have experienced pain for at least three months and their family members.

In particular, they are keen to talk to at least one parent of the young person and any interested siblings.

If you would like to take part in the study or to find out more information, please email the researchers at


The ASCmeIT app showcased at conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs

📥  HealthResSW

The 15th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs was attended by specialist health professionals and researchers with a remit to help people with special needs through computing. Professor Sarah Parsons, from the Digital Bubbles team, presented the ASCmeIT app. The app, which allows people with Autism Spectrum Conditions to share their ideas on what kind of new technology could help people with autism, was particularly welcomed at the conference as it encouraged ideas from the autistic community as opposed to experts.

The Digital Bubbles group, who came up with the ASCmeIT idea, includes researchers from the Universities of Bath, Southampton and Sussex who are interested in how digital technology can best support people on the autism spectrum. Bath Research & Development managed the technical development of the app.

The proceedings from the conference, which includes the presentation from Sarah (What Technology for Autism Needs to be Invented? Idea Generation from the Autism Community via the ASCme I.T. App), are available here.


ASCmeIT app showcased at PETRA conference

📥  HealthResSW

Dr Lisa Austin, University of Bath, represented the Digital Bubbles team and their ASCmeIT smartphone application at this this year’s PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments (PETRA) conference in Corfu.


Poster presented at the PETRA Conference

The ASCmeIT app allows people with Autism Spectrum Conditions – as well as families, teachers, professionals, and anyone who supports someone with autism – to share their ideas on what kind of new technology could help people with autism. Through the app you can upload a one minute video explaining your idea, which is then shared with researchers so that new developments in digital technologies for autism can be matched to support the needs of users. The app has proved very successful with over 100 videos uploaded since its launch.

The aim of the PETRA conference is to bring together such technologies to address important social and healthcare issues for sensitive populations, such as the elderly, persons suffering from chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, and other disabilities or traumas.

The app was well received and gained a lot of interest at the conference, with many attendees keen to learn more about co-creation of research with users and especially to hear more about methods to connect with people that were considered harder to reach.


Two day international conference - Encountering Pain: hearing, seeing, speaking

📥  HealthResSW

This innovative two-day international conference is being held at University College London, UK on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd July 2016.

It is estimated that 14 million people live with chronic pain in England alone. 25% pain sufferers lose their jobs, 16% feel their pain is so bad they want to die.

This conference brings together for the first time, over 200 patients and artists alongside healthcare professionals and academics who research pain, to share insights and generate new knowledge on pain and the way it is communicated. The event offers high profile key-note lectures and presentations, practice-based workshops, performance arts, and a new film exploring pain from multiple perspectives.

Key note speakers:

·         Prof Joanna Bourke (History, Birkbeck, University of London)

·         Prof Rita Charon (Medicine, Columbia University, New York, USA)

·         Prof Christopher Eccleston (Psychology, University of Bath)

·         Prof Maria Fitzgerald (Neurobiology, University College London)


Movement, photography, art and wellbeing, drawing, writing, mindfulness.

See the full programme here.


Clinical Trials Day Events by BRD

📥  HealthResSW

ok to ask


On Clinical Trials Day Bath R&D visited one of the care homes run by Sirona, their local social enterprise.  We had a stand at Charlton House in Keynsham.  Residents have a broad range of activities which aim to promote independence by developing and maintaining and enhancing people’s skills, interest and abilities.  Charlton House has 2 units - Somerdale provides a service for older people with Dementia and Abbey Park which provides a service to older people with a range of physical disabilities.  On the day of our visit, the 20th May – Age UK were running an activity day and celebrating the birthday of one of their oldest residents who had just turned 100!

Visitors and residents of the care home were invited to take part in the taste test by saying which of the 3 coloured drinks we had tasted sweeter when in fact they are all the same.  We explained the reason for this is that people are biased by how the drink looks.   Identical looking regular and gluten free brownies were uses to help explain the concepts of randomisation and blinding, we explained the new drug and the placebo are often made to look the same, but one (the new drug) has the active ingredient and the other one does not (placebo).   Finally we offered people regular and sour sweets.  We explained people like different tastes so in clinical trials, treatments can work differently for different people too. To make sure researchers know how treatment works for a range of people, we explained lots of people are needed to take part in clinical trials. This helps to make sure treatments are safe and effective for everyone.

On Monday the 23rd May we also run a GCP training course in the University of Bath to celebrate clinical trials day.  Attends included people from the NHS and various Departments from the University of Bath.


Researchers want men and women to take part in a survey to help find out how masculinity and femininity influence how we cope with pain

📥  HealthResSW

Researchers from the University of Bath are embarking on a new study to understand more about how men and women cope with their pain.

Research has consistently shown that women report more pain than men, and that their pain is more intense, disabling, and frequent than that experienced by men. There is also some evidence to suggest that gender-related factors, such as masculinity and femininity, influence how individuals experience and report their pain.

Pain is a common aspect of life for many of us, and can have a negative effect on our lives. However, some of these negative effects can be avoided depending on how we cope with our pain. How we cope with pain is often determined by personality factors and the situation in which we experience pain, and PhD student Samantha Wratten is interested in the role that gender plays in coping with pain.

Masculinity is linked to a number of risky health behaviours that can have a negative impact on health, whilst femininity is linked to more expressive health behaviours such as seeking healthcare, expressing pain, and taking painkillers.

Men and women tend to have both masculine and feminine traits. This research aims to explore the role of these factors in influencing how men and women cope with pain. Understanding gender barriers to expressing pain can help correct the idea that pain is a sign of weakness, in turn improving fitness, health, and longevity.

The researchers want both men and women to take part in a new online survey that will explore how sex, gender, and motivation influence how we cope with pain.

They are looking for men and women aged 18 and over to complete a short, online survey. This asks questions about your experiences of pain, including what you do when you are in pain, as well as about your personality and attitudes related to coping with pain.

The survey, which takes 20-30 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous, can be found here.

Find out more about the Centre for Pain Research here.


Understanding why some primary care patients decide not to take part in research

📥  HealthResSW

A recent study carried out by Samantha Warren from Bath R&D and Dr Nick Jones from St Chad's Surgery, with help from BARONET (Bath Area Research Organisation Network), sought to understand the reasons why some primary care patients decide not to take part in research studies and to use the findings to help make future research studies better and increase patient participation.


GP and patient

To help us with this 40 primary care patients, who had previously been asked to take part in a commercial research study but had decided not to, completed a short questionnaire designed to find out the reasons why. The questionnaire was developed with help from members of Bath R&D's PPI Participate Network.

The results found the main barriers to taking part in commercial research studies for primary care patients were not having enough time (40%) and the research study involving too many visits to their GP practice (53%), a finding that we would like to look into further.

Other barriers included patients having too many family commitments (30%) and not being able to visit their GP practice during the day (20%). Positively only 10% of the respondents gave not being interested in research as a reason for not taking part, a finding that suggests patients are generally keen to take part if they can.

Based on the findings a number of key recommendations were made to overcome barriers to participation which included more flexible appointments for patients and giving patients a clear timeline of the study that shows how many visits to their GP practice would be needed and how often.

The patients who completed the questionnaire were from Bath and the surrounding towns, 45% were male and 55% were female, and age range was 26 years to 86 years. If you would like further information please contact Samantha Warren at


Suicide rates in children and young people increase

📥  HealthResSW

The Office for National Statistics published the UK suicide rates for 2014 on the 4th February 2016.  These new figures suggest an increase in suicide rates in children and young people in 2014, with up to two children (aged 10–14 years) and 15 young people (aged 15–19 years) in the UK committing suicide each month.

Professor Paul Stallard from the Univeristy of Bath's Department for Health,  has written a letter in the Lancet on this topic:

Professor Stallard has conducted substantial NIHR funded research (PACES) based in the South West on effective school-based universal suicide prevention programmes, such as FRIENDS, and he urges more investment in these programmes.



Encountering pain: 2 day event at UCL

📥  HealthResSW

Encountering Pain: hearing, seeing, speaking

A free 2-day live event and international conference at UCL

Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd July 2016

Keynote Speakers:
Joanna Bourke
Rita Charon
Christopher Eccleston
Maria Fitzgerald

Pain is not only expressed linguistically but through bodily movements, emotional reactions, and artistic expressions.

How do we respond when we encounter the pain of another? What happens when our own bodies encounter pain?  What tools do we possess when attempting to communicate pain and are there forms other than language for expressing it?

During these two days, we will explore a range of international and interdisciplinary approaches that can help us better understand encounters with pain both within and beyond the clinic.

The event will divert radically from the traditional academic conference format to encourage exchange between different groups affected by pain.

Register here.


Supporting non-medic Principal Investigators to be research active

📥  HealthResSW

This video, produced by Bath Research & Development (BRD) and the NIHR Clinical Research Network: West Of England, aims to encourage non-medic Principal Investigators to be research active. The interviewee is Dr Krist Noonan, a neuropsychologist specialising in Dementia, who has been PI on a number of Dementia research projects. The interviewer is Sue Taylor, a Nurse Consultant (Research Delivery) for the NIHR CRN: West of England.