High level endorsements for SPaRC
The University of Dundee partnered the Scottish Pain Research Community (SPaRC) annual scientific meeting on Thursday March 28th 2013 – a key event that showcased current research across Scotland into the causes and treatment of pain.
Chaired by Professor Blair H. Smith – of the College of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing – the meeting brought together around 125 practitioners from molecular medicine to population & clinical science to exchange ideas and information plus identify future collaborations. Professor Tim Hales, Head of Neuroscience at the University of Dundee, also serves on the conference's Scientific Committee.
The 2013 audience also included service users as well as representatives of potential funding, policymakers and industrial partners.
SPaRC is a network under the aegis of NHS Scotland (Healthcare Improvement Scotland) addressing the causes and treatment of pain. Established in 2010, SPaRC aims to ensure that pain clinicians are informed of the most recent relevant research, and that research in Scotland focuses on topics of immediate clinical relevance.
“Chronic pain affect at least 20% of the population, and severe - intense, highly disabling - pain affects around 5%.” explains Professor Smith. “ It results in a high cost to individuals, the health services and society, and the prevalence and impact are increasing as the population ages. Treatment is often unsatisfactory, and research efforts worldwide are focused on improving outcomes for sufferers and options for health professionals.”
Current research is leading to enhanced understanding of the biological, psychological and social mechanisms of chronic pain, with new, or new applications of existing management strategies. Scotland is well-placed to be at the forefront of this effort, and includes a number of University centres with a specific focus on chronic pain, as well a collaborative outlook and political backing to support research in this area.
This year's SPaRC meeting was particularly significant because it included plenary lectures by the President of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Professor Fernando Cervero and the President of the British Pain Society (BPS) Professor Richard Langford.
“This endorsement is very encouraging for Scottish pain researchers, and provides an indication of the importance and uniqueness attached to SPaRC internationally,” says Professor Smith.
The Scottish National Lead Clinican for Chronic Pain, Dr Steve Gilbert, also spoke at the Dundee SPaRC meeting.
Chronic pain research is a major international effort. IASP has around 8,000 members in 133 countries http://www.iasp-pain.org//AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home
BPS has around 1,600 members http://www.britishpainsociety.org/index.htm
In 2007, the "GRIPS" Report in Scotland made a number of recommendations on chronic pain management, including the development of a uniform approach across Scotland, recognition of chronic pain as a long-term clinical condition in its own right, and the appointment of a Lead Clinician for Chroinc Pain.
These recommendations were endorsed by the Scottish Government in 2008, and SPaRC is a direct result of subsequent activity. In addition to successful ASMs, SPaRC has established a SIGN Guideline for Chronic Pain (now in advanced draft), and has secured funding from CSO for a national study on opioid prescribing (led by University of Dundee in collaboration Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and NHS ISD).