Blending digital and clinician support

Blending digital and clinician support to help people with chronic pain and mental health concerns

Royal Perth Bentley Group


Coordinating Principal Investigator: Dr Robert Schutze

Co-Investigators: Professor Andrew Biggs, Professor Blake Dear, Mr Ben Horgan, Professor Peter O’Sullivan, Professor Helen Slater 

This project aims to reduce barriers to healthcare for people struggling with chronic pain and mental health concerns. One in five Australians live with persistent daily pain. Living with chronic pain is often distressing and disabling. People with chronic pain are more likely to also have mental health conditions than people who do not live with chronic pain. Yet access to whole-person health care that addresses both pain management and mental health needs is limited. 

To tackle this problem, researchers and healthcare professionals are developing a new approach called "Blended Pain Care." Researchers and health professionals are working with people who live with chronic pain to find new ways of delivering mental health care and pain management support. They are combining the best features of clinician-supported care and digital health solutions to create the 'Blended Pain Care' approach 

By blending these approaches, the goal is to provide more effective support for people living with chronic pain, especially in managing their mental health alongside their physical symptoms. 

The project also aims to address the barriers that prevent many individuals from accessing mental health support for their chronic pain. These barriers include costs, geographical limitations, lack of awareness about pain psychology, and insufficient resources in the healthcare system. This results in delayed or inadequate access to services due to the long waiting lists for treatment in gold-standard tertiary hospital pain clinics, such as the Royal Perth Hospital Bentley Group Multidisciplinary Pain Management Centre. By leveraging digital technologies, the project seeks to increase access to evidence-based care for pain-related mental health concerns, empowering both patients and healthcare professionals to manage chronic pain more effectively outside of specialised tertiary clinics. 

Ultimately, the goal of this project is to improve the quality of life for individuals living with chronic pain by providing accessible and comprehensive support that addresses both their physical and mental health needs. 

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