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  Acceptability, validation and extension of a novel digital manikin for identifying location and intensity of pain

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr David Wong, Dr Sabine Van der Veer  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Pain is a common symptom of all musculoskeletal diseases, and prominent in many other conditions, such as cancer. It substantially affects people’s quality of life and imposes a significant burden on society due to treatment costs and absence from work. To optimally manage pain and understand treatment response, we need insight into how it changes over time. This requires validated instruments to capture key aspects of pain, which often vary per location, such as pain intensity.

Digital manikins are human-shaped drawings where people can shade areas to self-report the location of their pain on a computer. In contrast to their paper counterparts, digital manikins support automated calculations of e.g. the extent of the affected area. The digital manikin developed at the University of Manchester is unique research tool that enables people to self-report the location-specific intensity of their pain, rather than just location, using any mobile device.

This project will extend on the initial usability testing by:

a.)           Investigating the usability and acceptability of the tool as a data collection tool for live clinical care

b.)          Investigating the tool’s transferability to other (non-UK) cultural settings

c.)           Creating initial insights from pilot data that may be used to extend the tool as part of a wider remote monitoring tool.

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area / subject.  Candidates with experience in developing and evaluating digital health interventions are encouraged to apply.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Health Psychology

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Nursing & Health (27)

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Standard Band fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website ( For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (
Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website


PROMs for pain in adult cancer patients: a systematic review of measurement properties. Abahussin A, West R, Wong DC, Zeigler L. Pain Practice 19(1), 2019.
A pain recording system based on mobile health technology for cancer patients in a home setting: a user-centred design. Abahussin A, West R, Allsop M, Ziegler L, Wong DC., In proc. International Conference on Health Informatics 2021
Digital manikins to self-report pain on a smartphone: a systematic review of mobile apps. Ali SM, Lau WJ, Mcbeth J, Dixon W, Van Der Veer S. European Journal of Pain. 2020
Development of a mobile digital manikin to measure pain location and intensity. Van Der Veer S, Beukenhorst A, Ali SM, James B, Silva P, Mcbeth J, Dixon W. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 2019