Professor published in top neurology journal

Posted: January 6, 2015 12:05 p.m.

Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos’ work was recently published in “The Lancet Neurology", the highest ranked clinical neurology journal in the world.
Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos’ work was recently published in “The Lancet Neurology", the highest ranked clinical neurology journal in the world. Photo: U of R Photography

The research of Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, professor of psychology at the University of Regina, has been published in the influential peer-reviewed publication – The Lancet Neurology.

The submission “Pain assessment in elderly adults with dementia” examines chronic pain that is highly prevalent in our ageing population.

“It is very rewarding to see our work published in such a high-impact outlet,” says Dr. Hajistavropoulos.“It gives hope for meaningful changes in clinical practices that could improve the lives of vulnerable seniors with dementia.”

The Lancet Neurology is published in London, England and ranks the highest among the 194 clinical neurology journals worldwide.

In the publication, Dr. Hajistavropoulos highlights the critical importance of offering people with dementia the option of specialized assessment tools to indicate a patient’s severity of pain. He gives examples and analyses the variety of instruments used to detect pain, including those with ‘consistently positive results.’ However, Dr. Hajistravropoulos observes ‘there is still no one instrument that meets all purposes.”

“The inability to successfully communicate pain in severe dementia is a major barrier to effective treatment,” writes Dr. Hajistavropoulos. He adds “the greatest challenge that remains is to get cash-strapped, front-line, long-term care facilities to adopt what we know are best practices in this area.

Evidence- based assessment approaches exist, but they require additional resources that many long-term care facilities do not have.”
Being published in this influential journal is attracting international recognition.

 “Dr. Hadjistavropoulos and his colleagues have provided the medical community with the tools to make a huge difference in the lives of highly vulnerable patients and their often stressed professional and family caregivers,” says Dr. Perry Fine, Professor of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Dr. Fine was a key contributor in the drafting of the American Geriatrics Society Guidelines for geriatric pain management. “The Lancet article reviews an ever-increasing and highly-problematic area in the field of geriatrics, understanding behaviours that signal significant pain that are often overlooked entirely.”

Dr. Hadjistavropoulos and his team at the University of Regina are making progress in this area. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research recently awarded Dr. Hadjistavropoulos and the University of Regina’s Department of Psychology a three-year operating grant of more than $300,000 to help develop an automated system for pain detection in older adults with dementia.

“The system, once developed, will be cost effective and will alert caregivers when pain behaviours are detected,” says Dr. Hadjistavropoulos. “Our goal is to have the system installed and tested in at least two long-term care facilities within the next seven years.”

This research is one of the projects underway at the University of Regina’s Health Psychology Laboratory. For information on the projects and how you can participate in the research, please go to:  http://www2.uregina.ca/hpl/