We are pleased to announce that Dr Paul Chazot from our top-rated Biosciences Department has won the Fuse Award for Innovative and Creative Communications Initiative for his project ‘Unmasking Pain’.
The project seeks to help people manage chronic pain through working with artists, scientists, Expert Pain Livers and pain clinicians.
We hosted a series of workshops in which people with chronic pain participated in creative activities including dance, drawing, mask making, puppetry, music, and walking to find new ways of talking about their experiences with managing pain.
Artists shared their own experiences of living with pain and how they use creative storytelling to communicate these experiences. This inspired participants to be more creative in expressing themselves.
Dr Chazot, who is the lead on this project, says that ‘This unique combination of artists, scientists, health staff and people with lived experience of pain has come up with a winner, to give individuals their voice and new creative ways to self-manage their unique version of persistent pain. As scientists, we can provide objective measurements of the effects of this approach, to give a holistic validation of what we can already see in their ‘faces.’’
The range of impact differed amongst participants. For some, the creative activities distracted them from their pain. Others found opportunities of self-discovery and new strategies to cope with pain.
In the words of Hannah Farley, a local authority Principal Culture Programmes Officer and pain liver, ‘This is a gamechanger!’
Researchers measured the impact of the project on participants and found that the need for pain medication decreased or stayed the same. The outcome was that participants became more open to alternative pain management, which is crucial in the fight to reduce opioid-based medications. The participants also increased their steps, gained sleep time, and reduced their resting pulse rate, which has been maintained to the present day.
Dr Frances Cole, Co-founder, Live Well with Pain and Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing, says this project is ‘Truly inspiring for health and social practitioners to see possibilities and hope for those who live with pain… a start of a movement of real change in health and wellbeing.’
This project is continuing to develop with sessions in Kirklees, Leeds, and Devon. In March, an exhibition of this project will tour GP practices in Durham and Leeds. GPs requested this exhibition as they need to support their many patients who have chronic pain. An exhibition will also take place in Hatfield College for a couple of months. It will also be part of a Health Festival in the summer.
‘Unmasking Pain’ has been funded by Arts Council England, WRIHW, and ERSC IAA and is in partnership with Balbir Singh Dance Company, Leeds Beckett University, Live Well with Pain, and Space2.
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