At a glance

A digital intervention to improve pain in childhood cancer survivors

Lead researcher

Dr Lauren Heathcote


King's College London



Amount awarded


Last updated



Dr Lauren Heathcote is testing a digital intervention to improve pain outcomes in childhood cancer survivors

Headshot of Lauren Heathcote from KCL

Although average survival rates for childhood cancers are now over 80 per cent, pain is one of the most common consequences of childhood cancer survivorship.

Studies have shown that up to 43.9 per cent of childhood cancer survivors report chronic pain lasting more than three months. This can persist into adulthood resulting in an impact on psychosocial wellbeing and health-related quality of life.

Yet, despite substantial evidence that pain is common and persistent after childhood cancer, almost all innovations in behavioural treatment approaches have focused on helping children manage pain during active cancer treatment but not to alleviate post-cancer pain.

Dr Lauren Heathcote from King’s College London will develop and test a novel digital therapeutic approach to alleviate the impact of pain and improve wellbeing of childhood cancer survivors.

Dr Heathcote will use established methods to design an entirely digital intervention comprising of animated videos and reflection exercises with the aim of helping childhood cancer survivors to shift towards the mindset that the body is capable of healing and recovery.

The aim is to teach children about the biopsychosocial nature of pain (an interaction between biological, psychological and social factors), normalise worrying about pain, and use evidence-based techniques to help shift children towards more adaptive mindsets about their body.

"While finishing cancer treatment is something to celebrate, it can also bring new challenges for the child and their family. It is vital that we can offer evidence-based support and treatment programmes for young survivors to help them manage ongoing pain after cancer." - Dr Lauren Heathcote