Psychology professor receives international honour for research in pain in older adults

By Costa Maragos Posted: May 8, 2018 6:00 a.m.

 Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos is Professor in the Psychology Department and Director of the U of R’s Centre on Aging and Health.
Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos is Professor in the Psychology Department and Director of the U of R’s Centre on Aging and Health. U of R Photography

Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Professor in the Psychology Department, is the recipient of the Distinguished Contribution Award for Pain in Older Persons.

The prestigious award will be presented at the 17th World Congress on Pain September 12 – 18 in Boston.

The recognition is a culmination of Hadjistavropoulos’ more than two decades of top-notch research on campus and in the community that continues to make a positive difference for older adults suffering from pain.
“Together with awesome graduate students and collaborators from several countries, we have been working for over 25 years to address the problem of pain undermanagement in older persons and especially among those with severe dementia whose cognitive impairment stands in the way of effectively telling us about their pain experience,” says Hadjistavropoulos, who is Director of the U of R’s Centre on Aging and Health and Research Chair in Aging and Health.

Thomas Hadjistavropoulos
Dr. Thomas Hadjistavropoulos in his lab working with a community volunteer. Photo courtesy of Debra Marshall - SHRF

Hadjistavropoulos has led the way with the use and analysis of specialized assessment tools to indicate a patient’s severity of pain, particularly those with dementia.

His work has been published in prestigious science journals including The Lancet Neurology. Most recently, the U of R researchers have been sharing their research data with collaborators at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

The Centre on Aging and Health brings together investigators focused on gerontological research in the areas of Aboriginal health and aging, musculoskeletal health and mobility, pain in old age and personhood and resilience in senior care.

It supports graduate student research projects and provides ongoing community outreach.

“It is a wonderful honour to see our work recognized at the international level,” says Hadjistavropoulos. “This recognition fuels our momentum even more to continue our work toward solutions that can make a real difference in people’s lives.”

As an award recipient, Hadjistavropoulos will attend the conference in Boston where he’s been asked to share with researchers from around the world the latest on his research.  

The World Congress on Pain, hosted by the International Association for the Study of Pain, attracts more than 5,000 delegates from around the world representing scientists, clinicians, health-care providers and policymakers. The goal is to support the study of pain leading to improved pain relief worldwide.

“Living with pain is a reality for many older adults and can severely impair their quality of life,” says Hadjistavropoulos. “We feel our work in gerontological research is helping make a positive difference for people in Saskatchewan to live longer, healthier lives. That is our goal.”

Hadjistavropoulos has been honoured with numerous prestigious awards including the Saskatchewan Health Care Excellence Award. He’s been inducted as Fellow in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences which represents one of the highest honours available to Canadian health scientists. He has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters as well as five books.

Over the years, Hadjistavropoulos’ lab  has received generous support from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.