International award recognises researcher’s focus on pain in ageing
“People say pain in ageing is ‘just one of those things’, but I’m passionate about improving people’s quality of life, and ensuring that older and vulnerable adults in particular don’t suffer unnecessarily.”

An academic from the University of Plymouth has received an international award for her long-standing commitment to pain management.

Professor Patricia Schofield, who has recently joined the University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, has been awarded the prize for distinguished service by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).

The award is given to individuals who, over an extended period of time, have served IASP in an outstanding way through volunteer participation.

Professor Schofield’s career has seen her lead the development of The UK National Guidelines for Assessment of Pain in Older People, and write more than 200 peer-reviewed articles on pain in ageing.

She has also developed international collaborations, including with Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts, and led Europe-wide surveys on the assessment of pain in a bid to standardise evidence and care.

Working alongside colleagues from across the UK, Professor Schofield is currently part of a three-year collaboration working with older adults and their carers to co-design content, mode of delivery, implementation strategies, service and professional support and guidance to enable older people with frailty to better manage their pain and reduce its negative impact on their quality of life.

Current figures show that significant chronic pain affects 20 per cent of adults, rising to 62 per cent of those over 75. Many diseases causing chronic pain, such as diabetes, arthritis and dementia, also increase with age.

Professor Schofield, who is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula (PenARC), said: 

“I started to research into pain during my PhD and it’s continually been my focus, so I’m honoured to have received this award. IASP is the international umbrella organisation that brings together research, education, and policies for the understanding, prevention, and treatment of pain, so it’s really valuable recognition.

“From a UK perspective, one thing that remains is how under-researched pain is, especially in ageing, so I want to continue to help where I can. People say pain in ageing is ‘just one of those things’, but I’m passionate about improving people’s quality of life, and ensuring that older and vulnerable adults in particular don’t suffer unnecessarily.”

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