Psychology professor Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos is awarded a major grant for the development and dissemination of pain detection technology

Department of Psychology professor Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, with co-investigator Babak Taati of The Kite Research Institute has just been awarded $550,000.00 for the project 'Advanced Technologies for Pain Care in Older Adults with Dementia'.

The funding is part of a $10 million investment from AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life NCE Inc.), Canada’s technology and aging network. AGE-WELL is dedicated to the creation of technologies and services that benefit older adults and caregivers, and aims to assist older Canadians in maintaining their independence, health and quality of life.

The project aims to further technologies supporting older adults living with pain, as despite its prevalence, pain in seniors continues to be under-assessed and undermanaged. Similarly, seniors with severe dementia often have difficulty communicating their pain, causing it to frequently be misdiagnosed and mistreated as a psychiatric disturbance.

Hadjistavropoulos' research will work to improve pain care in older adults with dementia by developing technology in several key areas, including: the development of computer vision systems to monitor pain behaviours and warn long-term care (LTC) staff when pain appears to be present; development of a tablet app to facilitate LTC staff in monitoring and recording pain behaviours; refinement and dissemination of interactive web-based platforms capable of providing cutting edge pain education to LTC staff in rural and remote areas; and finally, a large scale mobilization of knowledge/awareness to facilitate adoption of these solutions and address practice and policy gaps in senior care.

Hadjistavropoulos is Research Chair in Aging and Health, and Director of the Health Psychology Laboratory. His research has also been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Hadjistavropoulos was recently awarded the Faculty of Arts' Accessible Scholarship Outreach Award for #SeePainMoreClearly, a prominent social media campaign aimed at raising awareness of pain underdetection and undermanagement in dementia patients and of new, better practice solutions now available to assist. Since it's inception in October 2019, the campaign has (as of this Spring) reached over reached 5,000,000 impressions on Twitter (representing over 2,162,000 unique users from over 32 countries). Similarly, the campaign's website seepainmoreclearly.org had been viewed in 54 countries, and media interest has generated at least 11 news stories (including the CBC, CTV, 770 CHQR Calgary). The campaign has also been featured on the websites of prominent organizations such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Posted 13 July 2020