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Exploring how adolescents with chronic pain and their parents experience and make sense of living with pain: A focus on positivity and flourishing

Project Description

Paediatric chronic pain is a major public health epidemic, costing society more than childhood obesity and asthma (Groenewald et al. 2015). One meta-analysis found that of 11-38% children and adolescents reported experiencing chronic pain, with prevalence rates increasing in adolescence (King et al., 2011). Chronic pain can be severe and disabling for many, having an adverse impact on the life of the adolescent, resulting in impaired physical, school related and psychological functioning (Eccleston et al., 2004; Forgeron et al., 2010; Simons et al., 2012).

A comprehensive understanding of adolescent chronic pain requires moving beyond the individual to study the wider social context in which this pain is experienced, highlighting the importance of including the family in investigations of paediatric chronic pain (Gatchel et al., 2007; Palermo et al., 2014). Existing work in this area has predominantly focused on negative aspects of living with paediatric chronic pain, particularly the impact of child pain on parents. However, recent studies have begun to examine how individuals adapt in a positive way to their experience of pain, including how adolescents and their families may flourish and/or report positive changes as a result of living with chronic pain over time. Research in this important area has been limited by a lack of agreement around definitions of concepts and difficulties with operationalising and measuring such positive concepts (Luthar, 2000). There is currently no detailed understanding of the nature of the positive changes that adolescents who live with chronic pain and their parents may report and when such changes are reported within the pain journey.

Using a variety of methods, the overall aim of this PhD is to investigate how adolescents who experience chronic pain and their families flourish despite living with pain and make sense of their pain experience. A particular focus will be placed on exploring the reporting of positive changes associated with living with pain and how they may impact on the lives of adolescents and family members over time.

The successful PhD student will be supervised by a strong team which includes internationally recognised supervisors in the field. The student will conduct their PhD within the Centre for Pain Research at the University of Bath. Additionally, the student will be encouraged to join Pain in Child Health, an international mentorship organisation for trainee paediatric pain researchers.

The preferred start date is 20 January 2020.

To apply please follow this link:

Funding Notes

This is a three year studentship, funded by the Pain Relief Foundation. This studentship is at the Home/EU rate and will cover tuition fees, maintenance stipend, and the cost of certain consumables.

We are looking for candidates who hold ALL of the criteria below:
• Undergraduate qualifications – a First (1st) or Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1) in Psychology or its equivalent from a recognised University or College.
• Postgraduate qualifications - A master’s degree in Psychology at distinction or merit level.
• An interest in paediatric pain research.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Bath in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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