At a glance

Distress in teenagers with chronic pain: Who is at risk, when, and why?

Lead researcher

Dr Verena Hinze


University of Oxford


Awarded and preparing to start

Amount awarded


Last updated



Up to 38% of young people are affected by chronic pain which can lead to the feeling of hopelessness and distress.

Verena Hinze

Research by Dr Verena Hinze from the University of Oxford shows that almost one in ten adolescents in the UK have experienced both persistent or recurrent pain alongside self-harm thoughts and behaviours.

But not everyone with chronic pain will develop such severe distress. The relationship between pain and distress remains poorly understood and therefore, it is crucial that we better understand who is at risk, when, and why.

Dr Hinze has been awarded a Medical Research Foundation-Versus Arthritis Catalyst Fellowship to help us better understand why some young people with chronic pain may experience distress but not others, and how chronic pain might increase such distress over time. This is important to provide effective care to those who need it at the right time.

Dr Hinze will invite 70 young people with chronic pain (aged 12-19 years) to answer a few questions about their pain and feelings four times per day. This is a method called ‘Ecological Momentary Assessment’, similar to a digital diary.

This will be used to explore how feelings of pain and distress might change over hours, days, and weeks. Dr Hinze also aims to identify psychological and social factors that predict those changes.

Findings from this study and the broader literature will be summarised in an accessible diagram to help healthcare professionals to provide prompt and effective care to young people with chronic pain.

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