Developing a Digital Self-Management tool for People with Chronic Pain

   Department of Computer and Information Sciences

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  Prof Roma Maguire , Dr Alexandra Mavroeidi, Dr Harleen Rai  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Currently, one in five people in Scotland live with debilitating pain every day of their life which can have a severe, negative impact on their Quality of Life (QoL). Accessing the right care at the right time to manage their symptoms can be difficult for people with Chronic Pain given the lack of signposting and personalised information. Within the context of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased need for remote, digital solutions that can help people self-manage their condition and accompanying symptoms at home. Interventions which focus on implementing lifestyle changes in e.g. physical activity, nutrition, and mental well-being are especially helpful in managing and treating chronic pain symptoms. This PhD in Computer & Information Sciences will be co-supervised by HaSS and will involve mixed methodology and co-design activities with people with Chronic Pain to develop a digital solution to help manage their symptoms.

Year 1: Conduct a literature review of (digital) interventions designed to manage and/or improve Chronic Pain symptoms. Conduct a needs assessment among people with Chronic Pain using co-design activities to determine the design and main functionalities of the digital solution. Work will also involve a collaboration with a software developer to create a pilot digital solution based on findings from co-design activities.

Year 2: Development and testing of the pilot digital solution with people with Chronic Pain and collect feedback through various methods. This will lead to the development of the full digital solution.

Year 3: A three-month pilot study with the full digital solution with people with Chronic Pain while collecting data with relevant PROMs and speaking to a proportion of participants to obtain feedback.

This is the first of a cohort of three PhD studentships which have been funded through the David Stirling Health Fund to create a new Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in the field of Chronic Pain. The subsequent PhD studentships will build on the work of this first studentship including a full evaluation of the digital solution and adapting it for underserved populations.


  • you'll be expected to have a 1st or 2:1 UK Honours degree (although a 2:2 would be considered if the candidate has additional experience), or overseas equivalent, in a relevant discipline from a recognised academic institution - ideally in Digital Health, Computer Science, Psychology, Biomedical Science or Health Sciences or related disciplines.
  • Candidates should be highly motivated to undertake cutting edge research in this field and to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders including people with chronic pain and their families/friends, experts from the NHS, and software developers.

Keywords: Chronic pain, self-management, digital technology, user centered design, co-design, citizen science, human computer interaction, usability, design.

Funding Notes

The studentship is fully funded and includes home fees, stipend and travel costs to a total value of approximately £70,000 across the studentship.
Please note that the studentship covers UK fees only. While non-UK applicants can apply, they need to specify in their documentation how they will fund the difference between the home UK and international fee rates.
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