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Determinants associated with physical activity levels in chronic neuropathic pain

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Ref: SHLS20035 Tan

People with chronic neuropathic pain (CNP) experience poor quality of life, health and physical function outcomes. Due to the moderate effectiveness and adverse effects of pharmacological treatments (e.g. opioids), it remains a priority to seek alternative methods to reduce the impact on those with CNP. Physical activity (PA) is promoted as a possible complementary treatment strategy as it may reduce pain severity, improve physical function and quality of life with minimal adverse effects. The promotion of PA in the CNP population is especially pertinent given that people with chronic pain are exposed to an increased risk of all-cause mortality and all circulatory system disease death. However, aggravation of pain through PA is a fear often reported by people with CNP. To overcome this fear, people with CNP tend to avoid activity altogether as a coping strategy. Despite this, they generally recognise that remaining physically and socially active is important. This is encouraging, and the translation of this recognition to actual PA can be further encouraged with a person-centred approach for external support, especially by health professionals. It is therefore important to understand and identify the factors that determine PA levels in people with CNP, and how these differ from other pain presentations. It is likely that these PA facilitators and barriers will be different between CNP and chronic pain without NP components. Following identification and stratification of these different factors, these can then be targeted for co-designing treatment approaches for persons with CNP. This project aims to explore the clinical, psychological and social determinants of physical activity levels in people with CNP. This project will be mixed methods in nature using questionnaires, physical activity monitoring and focused group interviewing. It will be conducted in collaboration with NHS Fife Pain Service and NHS Fife Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Service.

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