From his first days at the University of British Columbia as a researcher of early detection of Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos has been interested in researching pain in people who have severe limitations expressing pain.
Now a research chair and professor of psychology in the Faculty of Arts, Hadjistavropoulos is a leading authority on pain assessment in dementia and the director of two world-class research facilities at the University of Regina: the Health Psychology Laboratory and the Centre for Aging and Health.
"We identified a huge need in Saskatchewan for research in pain assessment and management among seniors," said Hadjistavropoulos. "Over 420,000 people in Canada suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other dementias which, during the mid to advanced stages, seriously limit a person's ability to communicate pain. As a result, many seniors with severe pain remain untreated because their caregivers are often unaware of underlying problems."
With $1 million from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Hadjistavropoulos established the Centre for Aging and Health to enhance research related to aging, strengthen graduate education, and increase community outreach - connecting real community health issues with cost-effective, research-based solutions. Through the Centre, Hadjistavropoulos established the only interdisciplinary graduate degree program in gerontology in the prairies. The program draws students from across Canada.
Hajistavropoulos is also a faculty member at the University's nationally accredited graduate program in clinical psychology which has grown to become competitive with the best in Canada and worldwide.
Together with his graduate students, Hadjistavropoulos has developed some of the world's most influential and frequently cited methods for assessing pain in seniors with dementia. Methods, such as PACSLAC - the Pain Assessment Checklist for Seniors with Limited Ability to Communicate, are being applied worldwide, helping to facilitate early detection of health conditions and potentially reducing health care costs.
"At any one time, we'll have as many as 30 projects going," emphasized Hadjistavropoulos. Currently, he, his research collaborators and graduate students are in the middle of a five-year $2.5 million research project. The project looks at issues such as pain assessment, fall prevention, exercise and nutrition intervention, and is funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.
"The success of my graduate students is tremendously rewarding to me," said Hadjistavropoulos. "I want to see every one of them succeed and be among the best psychology researchers in Canada."
For more information on Hadjistavropoulos's research in pain assessment, visit http://uregina.ca/hadjistt/