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Airing Pain 22: Pain Support Groups and Facial Expressions

What facial expres­sions in mice can tell us about pain, man­ag­ing pain in demen­tia patients, and find­ing hope in a pain sup­port group

This pro­gramme was fund­ed by a grant from Big Lot­tery Fund, Awards for All (Scot­land) and an edu­ca­tion­al grant from Pfizer.

Peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness and chron­ic pain often find it dif­fi­cult to access the treat­ment they need. Spe­cial­ist nurse Valerie Con­way talks about her work in pro­vid­ing car­ers with the skills to bet­ter look after peo­ple with Alzheimer’s and demen­tia who have pain.

Mea­sur­ing pain through facial expres­sions is one way in which health pro­fes­sion­als can become more aware of the needs of those who are unable to ver­balise their expe­ri­ence. Pro­fes­sor Jef­frey Mogil tells Air­ing Pain about his work mea­sur­ing pain respons­es in the facial expres­sions of mice and how this could help in under­stand­ing human pain and in find­ing new drug treat­ments for pain.

We also hear from Sue Clay­ton about how shar­ing her expe­ri­ences and get­ting pain man­age­ment advice at a pio­neer­ing chron­ic pain sup­port group in the eight­ies helped her put her life back togeth­er after post-sur­gi­cal pain.

Issues cov­ered in this pro­gramme include: Med­ical research, demen­tia, sup­port groups, Alzheimer’s dis­ease, mea­sur­ing pain, post-sur­gi­cal pain, learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, observ­ing behav­iour, facial expres­sion, body lan­guage, non­ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, com­mu­ni­cat­ing pain, edu­cat­ing car­ers, brain sig­nals, empa­thet­ic pain and mutu­al understanding.


  • Valerie Con­way, Clin­i­cal Lead, NHS Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices Chron­ic Pain, Kent
  • Pro­fes­sor Jef­frey Mogil, Pro­fes­sor of Pain Stud­ies, McGill University
  • Sue Clay­ton, past mem­ber of BPS patient liaison.


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