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Can self-management therapies help with chronic pain?

Project summary

Current treatment options for chronic pain in diabetes (also called painful diabetic neuropathy) are not very effective. A PhD student in Professor McCracken’s lab will investigate whether self-management strategies that focus around psychology could be used to manage pain better.

If successful, it will form a base for developing psychological therapies for people with painful diabetic neuropathy.

Background to research

Chronic painful diabetic neuropathy can affect around one in five people with diabetes. Current therapies for reducing the pain are not always effective. Psychological treatments have been shown to help with other chronic pain conditions, but haven’t been properly tested for chronic pain in diabetes.

We know that psychological therapy, called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, can help people with chronic pain improve their physical and social activities, their mood, and reduce the need for painkillers or other drugs. This therapy can be delivered in groups, one-to-one sessions, and even over the internet.

Professor McCracken would like to know whether this approach would also help with chronic pain in diabetes.

Research aims

A PhD student in Professor McCracken’s lab will assess if psychological therapies could be used to treat chronic pain in diabetes in three steps.

First, they’ll carry out a review of current research using this therapy, to work out how to adapt it to people with diabetes.

The second step will involve consulting people affected by chronic pain in diabetes to get their insight, before developing a suitable therapy.

And finally the effectiveness of this approach will be tested on around 30 people with diabetes and chronic pain.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

At Diabetes UK we are committed to finding ways of improving quality of life for people with diabetes, and this includes reducing the impact of diabetes complications.

This project, if successful, will help researchers to develop new ways to help people with diabetes cope with chronic pain and improve their wellbeing.

This project has been adopted by:

Diabetes UK local groups: Ilford and District
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