Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine

Professor Lesley Colvin Translational pain research

Translational pain research attempts to join up basic laboratory science with direct applications in clinic in order to improve patient care. There are a number of research questions that Professor Lesley Colvin is interesting in answering, they include, pain assessment, the use and impact of strong drugs for chronic long-term pain and pain caused through cancer treatment methods.


Pain assessment looks at whether patients are asked about how much pain they experience whilst in care. The Edinburgh Pain Assessment and Management Tool, developed through a large clinical trail looking at cancer patient’s pain, is a simple bedside tool that can be used to assess pain and direct clinical staff to manage that pain more appropriately. It has been shown to be effective in improving pain control without increasing the side effects of drugs used to manage pain.


Another aspect of pain assessment looks at individualizing patient’s pain by understanding the mechanisms of an individual patient’s pain more thoroughly.

An example of this particular research involves patients living with bone cancer who are often treated with radiotherapy to manage their pain, however this works in 50% of patients and takes approximately 5 weeks for patients to respond to treatment.


Understanding which patients are likely to benefit from radiotherapy is important so that those who are not thought to respond well can be offered a different type of pain management earlier on in their treatment.  A current clinical trail involving bone cancer patients is attempting to identify which patients should be offered alternative treatments to radiotherapy by understanding their particular, individualized pain.


Professor Colvin will also investigate the increased use of strong opiates for pain management within the Scottish population and the potential harm associated with this use, as well as analyzing some exciting new results emerging from her research around pain related to cancer treatment and how this can be reduced and better controlled in the future.