Pain Research Unit at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick

Contact details: 
  • Ph: 9382 5422 or 9382 5434
  • Fax: 9382 5680

Our postal address is:
Department of Pain and Palliative Care 
Level 7 Bright Alliance Building
High Street, Randwick NSW 2031

The Pain Research Unit is dedicated to improving the understanding, assessment and management of children’s acute and chronic pain through high quality interdisciplinary research.

The Unit was established in the late 1980s at a time when the field of paediatric pain management was in its infancy, and since then the Unit has made significant, internationally-acknowledged contributions.

Read about the history of the Unit.

The Pain Research Unit is located within the Sydney Children’s Hospital and benefits from close interaction and collaboration between researchers and clinicians. The research team is part of the Department of Pain and Palliative Care.

Role of the Pain Research team

High quality research needs to shape understanding and to shape practice. The role of Pain Research Team is thus to:

  1. Identify key questions in the understanding, assessment and management of children’s pain.
  2. Identify the best strategy(-ies) for answering important questions: Can the question be answered with a narrative or systematic review of the literature? Is a new study needed? What is the most appropriate study design?
  3. Support clinicians and students in their ability to identify key questions and in their ability to find answers. This may involve participation in educational meetings, collaboration, and the provision of supervision.
  4. Disseminate information from recent studies and articles to relevant stake holders (e.g., health professionals, patients, families, community).
  5. Advocacy for greater awareness of and response to all aspects of pain medicine in infants, children and adolescents with a view to improved experiences and outcomes for these young patients and thus eventually a reduced burden of pain in adults.

Team profiles

Our inter-disciplinary research team consists of dedicated researchers, clinician-researchers, research students, research volunteers, and valued national and international collaborators.

Read about our team members

Matthew Crawford, MB, BS, FANZCA, FFPMANZCA, FCICM

  • Dr Crawford is the Director of the Department of Pain and Palliative Care which oversees the Research Team

Tiina Jaaniste (nee Piira), B.Sc.(Psychol.), M.Psychol.(Clinical), PhD

G. David Champion, MB, BS, MD, FRACP, FFPMANZCA

  • Assoc. Prof Champion was the Founder & Past Director (until 2013) of the Paediatric Pain Research team. He is currently an Honorary Researcher (Pain Medicine).
  • Read Assoc. Prof Champion's CV

Theresa J. Donnelly, BA-Psych. (Hons), LLB

Clinical researchers

There is extensive collaboration between the dedicated research team and the clinical team members. Many of the clinical team members have extensive research experience and also supervise student research projects.

  • Claire McDonagh, B.Occupational Therapy (Chronic Pain and Palliative Care Service)
  • Dave Anderson, Clinical Nurse Consultant for Chronic Pain
  • Kirsty-Leah Goymour, Ba.Teaching (Early Childhood Education), Senior Play Therapist (Pain and Palliative CareService)
  • Meg Goodison-Farnsworth, RN, B.Sc.(Hons.)Psychology, PhD, Clinical Psychologist (Chronic Pain Service)
  • Jordan Wood, MBChB, FANZCA, FFPMANZCA, PG.Dip.SportMed., Pain Specialist & Anaesthetist
  • Tracey Kenmuir, B.Occupational Therapy; M.Educational Studies, Occupational Therapist (Chronic Pain and Palliative Care Service)

Student researchers

Students contribute to an important part of the Unit’s work. The majority of students carrying out research with our unit are from the School of Medicine, University of New South Wales. However, the team has also supervised medical and psychology students from various universities at a range of levels (honours/masters/doctorate/PhD).

Read about our past student projects/theses.

International visiting researchers

The Unit has been fortunate to have excellent international collaborators. These have included many mutually beneficial sabbatical visits from Prof Carl von Baeyer (University of Saskatchewan and University of Manitoba, Canada), and a regular stream of Dutch medical research students, many of whose contributions have been recognized in co-authorship of journal articles. Tiina Jaaniste has had a long association with Pain in Child Health (PICH), a strategic training initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, initially as an international trainee member, and subsequently as an international collaborator.

Read about our International Visiting Researchers.

Current research priorities

The Pain Research Unit consists of researchers from a range of disciplines with a variety of research interests. The team’s current research priorities are:

  1. Twin-family studies investigating possible genetic associations across various pain conditions.
  2. Somatosensory testing with paediatric chronic pain patients. 
  3. Self-report pain assessment in very young children.
  4. Information provision to children and families 
  5. Chronic paediatric pain and the family. 
  6. Paediatric chronic pain trajectory.

Publications

  • von Baeyer CL, Jaaniste T, Vo HL, Lao H-C & Champion GD. (2017). Systematic review of self-report measures of pain intensity in 3- and 4-year-olds: Bridging a period of rapid cognitive development. Journal of Pain. (March 24 2017; Epub ahead of print).
  • Donnelly TJ, Bott A, Bui M, Goh S, Jaaniste T, Chapman C, Crawford M, Hopper J & Champion D. (2017) Common pediatric pain disorders and their clinical associations. Clinical Journal of Pain. (March 7 2017; Epub ahead of print).
  • Lim S-W., Gunaratne, Y., Jaaniste, T., McCormick, M & Champion G.D. (2017). Somatosensory test responses and physical and psychological functioning of children and adolescents with chronic non-neuropathic somatic pain: an exploratory study. Clinical Journal of Pain33(2), 116-125.
  • Heeger G., McCormick M & Jaaniste T. (2017). Graded motor imagery in the rehabilitation of children with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): evidence still needed. Pediatric Pain Letter,19(1), 1-8.
  • Jaaniste, T., Noel, M. & von Baeyer, C.L. (2016). Young children’s ability to report on past, future, and hypothetical pain states: a cognitive-developmental perspective. Pain. 157(11), 2399-2409
  • Jaaniste T, Jia N, Lang T., Goodison-Farnsworth EM, McCormick M & Anderson D (2016). The relationship between parental attitudes and behaviours in the context of paediatric chronic pain. Child: Care, Health & Development, 42(3), 433-438.
  • Sullivan A, Goodison-Farnsworth E & Jaaniste T. (2015).  Posttraumatic stress disorder in children with chronic painPediatric Pain Letter, 17(3), 35-39.
  • Burnett HA, Lang TJ, Goodison-Farnsworth M, & McCormick M. (2014) Pediatric provider perceptions: Assessment and management of chronic and recurrent pain in children. J Pain Management, 7(2), 155-163.
  • Crawford M, Lang T, Lao A, Champion D. (2014) Pain in Children and Adolescents. In: Pain: The Person, the Science, and the Clinical Interface. (pp. 176-202) Armati P and Chow R, (eds.) IP Communications.
  • Burnett HA, Lang TJ, Goodison-Farnsworth M, & McCormick M. (2014, In press) Pediatric provider perceptions: Assessment and management of chronic and recurrent pain in children. J Pain Management, 7(2).
  • Crawford M, Lang T, Lao A, Champion D. Pain in Children and Adolescents. In: Pain: The Person, the Science, and the Clinical Interface. Armati P and Chow R, (eds.) IP Communications (in press). 
  • Wong MW, Williamson BD, Qiu W, Champion D, Teng A. (2014). Growing pains and periodic limb movements of sleep in children. J Paed Child Health, 50(6), 455-460
  • Coenders A, Chapman C, Jaaniste T, Qiu W, Anderson D, Glogauer M, Goodison-Farnsworth E, McCormick M, Champion D. In search of risk factors for chronic pain in adolescents: a case-control study of childhood and parental associations. J Pain Res 2014, 7: 175-183.
  • Jaaniste T, Phipps E, Lang T. & Champion GD. Impact of pediatric chronic pain on siblings: evidence and theory. Pediatric Pain Letter 2013, 15(3), 34-37. 
  • Verhoeven, K. Goubert, L., Jaaniste, T., Van Ryckeghem, D.M. & Crombez, G. (2012). Pain catastrophizing influences the use and the effectiveness of distraction in schoolchildren. European Journal of Pain,16(2),156-167.
  • Champion D, Pathirana S, Flynn C, Taylor A, Hopper JL, Berkovic SF, Jaaniste T, Qiu W. Growing pains: twin family study evidence for genetic susceptibility and a genetic relationship with restless legs syndrome. Eur J Pain. 2012 Oct;16(9):1224-31. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00130.x. Epub 2012 Mar 13.
  • Balendran J, Champion D, Jaaniste T, Welsh A. A common sleep disorder in pregnancy: Restless legs syndrome and its predictors. Australian and New Zealand journal of Obstetrics and Gynacology 2011 doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828X.2011.01294.
  • Champion D, Flynn C, Taylor A, Jaaniste T. Growing pains shares genetic determinants with the Restless Legs Syndrome. Twin Research and Human Genetics 2011, 13 (3): 250.
  • Pathirana S, Champion D, Jaaniste T, Yee A, Chapman C. Somatosensory test responses in children with growing pains. J Pain Res. 2011; 4: 393–400. Published online 2011 December 2. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S24875
  • von Baeyer CL, Champion GD. Multiple pains as functional pain syndromes (Commentary). Journal of Pediatric Psychology Advance Access January 11, 2011 doi.10.1093/jpepsy/jsq123.
  • Gordon BK, Jaaniste T, Bartlett K, Perrin M, Jackson A, Sanstrom A, Charleston R, Sheehan S. Child and parental surveys about pre-hospitalization information provision. Child: Care, Health and Development, 2010; 37(5): 727-733. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01190.x
  • Blount RL, Zempsky WT, Jaaniste T, Evans S, Cohen LL, Devine KA, Zeltzer LK. Management of pain and distress due to medical procedures. In MC Roberts & R Steele (Eds). Handbook of Pediatric Psychology, 4th ed, 2009, New York: Guilford Press, 171-188.
  • von Baeyer, CL & Jaaniste, T. Computer-Animated Faces Pain Scale: Commentary on Fanciullo et al. (2007), Pain Medicine 2009; 10(1), 195-196.
  • Blount, R.L., Simons, L.E., Devine, K.A., Jaaniste, T., Cohen, L.L., Chambers, C. & Hayutin, L.G. Evidence-based assessment of coping and stress in pediatric psychology, Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2008; 33, 1021-1045.
  • Bustos T, Jaaniste T, Salmon K, Champion GD. Evaluation of a brief parent intervention teaching coping-promoting behavior for the infant immunization context. Behavior Modification 2008; 32: 450-467. 
  • Du S, Jaaniste T, Champion D, Yap CSL. Theories of fear acquisition: the development of needle phobia in children. Pediatric Pain Letter 2008; 10(2): 13-17. 
  • Jaaniste T, Hayes B, von Baeyer CL. Effects of preparatory information and distraction on children`s cold-pressor pain outcomes: a randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy 2007; 45(11): 2789-2799.
  • Jaaniste T, Hayes B, von Baeyer CL. Providing children with information about forthcoming medical procedures: a review and synthesis. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 2007; 14(2): 124-143.
  • Piira T, Champion GD, Bustos T, Donnelly N, Lui K. Factors associated with infant pain response following an immunization injection. Early Human Development 2007; 83: 319-326.
  • Blount RL, Piira T, Cohen L & Cheng P. Pediatric procedural pain. Behavior Modification, 2006; 30(1):24-49.
  • Piira T, Sugiura T, Champion GD, Donnelly N & Cole A. The role of parental presence in the context of children's medical procedures: a systematic review. Child: Care, Health and Development. 2005; 31(2):233-43.
  • Chan CCE, Piira T. & Betts G (2005). The school functioning of children with chronic and recurrent pain. Pediatric Pain Letter, 7(2), Dec.
  • Goodenough B, Piira T, von Baeyer CL, Chua K, Wu E, Trieu JDH, Champion GD. Comparing six self-report measures of pain intensity in children. The Suffering Child 2005; 8:19 June. 
  • Perrott DA, Goodenough B & Champion GD. Children's ratings of the intensity and unpleasantness of post-operative pain using facial expression scales. European Journal of Pain, 2004; 8: 119-127.

Recent conference presentations

Researchers regularly attend national and international scientific meetings to present recent research findings and to learn about recent advances and developments elsewhere.

See a selection of recent conference presentations.

Online resources

Following is a list of websites that we find useful. These websites are constantly changing, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information they report.

  • PainBytes is a freely available online program for young people with chronic and complex pain conditions. By working through a series of 7 episodes online, youth can develop skills and strategies to manage their pain. The program content was developed by the Chronic Pain Team at Sydney Children’s Hospital, with input from the pain teams at the John Hunter Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The program was supported and made possible by state government funding and the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI).
  • Australian Pain Society. Features updates on the latest national and international conferences and pain related events, as well as links to numerous resources and a list of videos about pain.
  • International Association for the Study of Pain: Special Interest Group on Pain in Childhood. It offers a link to new publications from the Pediatric Pain Letter, providing peer-reviewed commentaries on pain in infants, children and adolescents. 
  • The American Pain Society. Provides background, policy, and extensive references concerning multidisciplinary assessment and treatment of chronic pain in children and adolescents.
  • Chronic Pain Australia is an organisation that provides wide ranging support and information for people suffering from chronic pain. It provides useful information to help understand chronic pain and takes a more holistic approach, considering the social and emotional aspects as well. It mainly deals with adults but can be very helpful responding to questions about chronic pain in children and adults
  • This pain toolkit from TalkingHealth.org is a great presentation of a wide range of tools and tactics to manage persistent pain which can be applied to children and adolescents.
  • Australian Pain Management Association Self-Help. Although not specific to children/adolescents, this is an excellent resource for supporting both patients and carers. A link to a phone helpline is provided which is serviced by people who experience chronic pain themselves. Additionally an array of self-help information and strategies are provided. 
  • My Child is in Pain” is a website for parents who want to know how to help manage their child’s pain after surgery. The information is especially suited for parents whose children are aged 2-6 years old. This interactive website was developed by researchers working with parents of children who have had day surgery, along with healthcare professionals who are experts in pain management for children and young people.
  • The Pain Toolkit offers tips and skills in self-management to those who live with persistent pain. It takes you step-by-step through 12 key easy to understand tools, and also provides additional information about workshops and other available resources.
  • The About Kids Health Online is the website of the Hospital for Sick Children. It provides information about pain, different therapies for its management, and tips for parents about how to communicate with their child with pain. 
  • University of Michigan Health system: Your Child website adds to the usual evidence-based information by providing interesting complementary and alternative methods of pain management.
  • The Cochrane Library provides free public access to some of the best medical evidence about diagnosis and treatment, and includes reviews covering pain in children and adolescents.
  • This page provides information about the Faces Pain Scale-Revised, including links to download the scale and instructions, references, translations of the instructions into more than 40 languages, and permission to reproduce the scale.

Video resources

This 5-minute video provides succinct and easily understandable information about chronic pain. Although the video describes adult chronic pain it may also be useful for adolescent pain patients and the parents of paediatric chronic pain patients. The video was developed by the Hunter Urban Medicare Local (which covers the Hunter Valley region and Newcastle in NSW, Australia) and the Hunter New England Local Health District.

This 10-minute video (in English), developed by the German Pediatric Pain Centre, provides an introduction to the differences between acute and chronic pain and the biopsychosocial model of chronic pain. Brief interventions for chronic pain are described, e.g. distraction techniques. The video is intended for school children and their parents but may be useful for all individuals who come in contact with children and adolescents who have pain.

This 2-minute YouTube video is intended to help parents support young children throughout their immunisation injections.

This is a short (1.5 minute) video about the use of breastfeeding before and during infant needles. 

  • A series of 3 short videos on use of distraction with children during medical procedures has been developed by A.Prof Charmaine Kleiber (University of Iowa College of Nursing) and her colleagues.
  • Part 1 is to teach professionals how to use distraction (12 minutes)
  • Part 2 teaches professionals how to involve parents (4 minutes)
  • Part 3 is directed at parents who want to learn to use distraction (3.5 minutes)

Book resources

Following are some books that we have found helpful that are focused on the management of pain in children and adolescents. (In reverse chronological order of publication.)

  • Everybody Stay Calm.

(2014). Mackenzie, A. Global Publishing Group. This is a book designed to assist parents in supporting young children through medical tests and procedures.

  • Practical Treatment Options for Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents. (2013) Dobe M, Zernikow B (Eds.) Springer Publications. 

This manual describes an inpatient treatment program for chronic pain children at the German Paediatric Pain Centre. It describes in detail the diagnostic criteria, the structure and principles of the treatment program, and various therapeutic interventions.

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain in Children and Adolescents. 

(2012) Palermo T. Oxford University Press. This book describes Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), describes the assessment of pain and what is involved in treatment planning, and the different interventions for its management.

  • The Brain That Changes Itself: personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science (2010) Norman Doidge. Scribe Publications.

This book is not about pain but provides encouragement about ways and means unwanted brain activities (which include pain) can be diminished or overcome.

  • A Child in Pain: What Health Professional Can Do to Help

(2010) Leora Kuttner, PhD. Crown House Publishing Company LLC. This book is directed primarily to health professionals but is very accessible to the general reader and has much that is of high value to parents and adolescents. It is a blend of sensitive, practical and interesting information and guidance with evidence.

  • Managing Pain in Children: A Clinical Guide

(2009) Twycross, A., Dowde, S.J., Bruce, E. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Although written for healthcare professionals, many parents will find the information of practical value and can lead to useful questions to present to the pain management team.

  • Managing persistent pain in adolescents: A handbook for therapists

(2008) Rogers, R. Oxford & New York: Radcliffe. Another book written for healthcare professionals with information also useful for parents and adolescents.

  • Be the Boss of Your Pain: Self-Care for Kids

(2007) Timothy Culbert, MD, and Rebecca Kajander, CPNP, MPh. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. We have not read the content, but this book directed primarily at children looks very appealing with lots of funny pictures.

  • Painful Yarns: Metaphors and Stories to Help Understand the Biology of Pain. 

(2007) Moseley, L. Dancing Giraffe Press. Written by clinical neuroscientist and co-author of Explain Pain, Dr Moseley provides an entertaining and informative way to understand modern pain biology.

  • A Child in Pain: How to Help, What to Do

(1996, reprinted 2006) Leora Kuttner, PhD. Crown House Publishing. This is a highly recommended book written by a very experienced and authoritative clinical and research psychologist who has specialised in pain management.

  • Explain Pain

(2003) David S. Butler and G. Lorimer Moseley. Noigroup Publications, Adelaide, Australia. This book provides excellent and still valid understanding of the nature of pain and is quirky, appealing and fun to read.

Donations

Private and corporate donations contribute to the advancement of our work improving the understanding and management of children’s pain.

We acknowledge with gratitude the long-term support of BBM Ltd (formerly Big Brother Movement).

If you wish to make a tax deductible conribution to support the our work, donations can be made through the Bandaged Bear website. Remember to direct the donation to the Paediatric Pain Research team.