New research project to help tackle chronic pain

The Australian Government is providing $10 million for new research projects that focus on preventing disease and keeping people out of hospital.


The projects are the first investments under the Medical Research Future Fund in the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre.


The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said, "Today we are announcing the first of these projects – which will receive more than $500,000 to look at how we can reduce the risk of people developing chronic pain."


Professor Fiona Blyth AM from the University of Sydney will look at how patient pain can be better managed in the primary care setting, so it does not get to a point where it becomes chronic and interferes with quality of life or requires treatment with opioids.


Chronic pain is a growing health issue, with one in five Australians living with chronic pain. It is estimated to cost the economy $34 billion a year


The project is based on the assumption that the key is access to effective prevention, self-management and non-pharmacological pain management.


Latest evidence estimated that 83 per cent of people could be treated effectively if they had access to this type of service, Mr Hunt said.


The information gathered as part of the project will be used to develop a tool for Primary Health Networks, allowing them to make local assessments of their capacity and needs.


Projects run by Professor Blyth and her team complement other activities the Australian Government is undertaking, including the up-scheduling of codeine on 1 February 2018 and the new Chronic Pain MedsCheck trial.


The Pain MedsCheck trial will be managed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, in partnership with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.


Under the Pain MedsCheck trial pharmacists will assist patients who are taking medication to deal with on-going chronic pain of three or more months.


Through the trial a pharmacist will evaluate a patient’s medicine and the pain management program, ensuring it is supporting their clinical need and providing the best support. Professional pharmacists will underake face to face consultations with patients to review their medication and analgesic use and develop a written action plan, incorporating education, self-management and referral to doctors or other experts where additional support is required.


For more information see the Prevention Centre website -


1 February 2018.