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Professor Rhodes Seeks Study Participants For Grant-Funded Research Project

What is it like to live every day while facing the challenges of chronic pain? And, beyond this, can students enhance empathy for chronic pain patients by the use of a chronic pain simulation kit? These are the questions that Dr. Lynn Simko from the School of Nursing and Diane Rhodes from the School of Pharmacy have been awarded funding from the Charles Henry Leach III grant to study.

The researchers, provided $11,100.00 from this grant, are currently seeking study participants from students, ages 20 and older, enrolled in one of the Professional Health Care Schools at Duquesne University including the School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing, and the School of Health Sciences (physical and occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, physician's assistant, and athletic training). More than ten opportunities to participate in the study are scheduled throughout the Fall 2018 semester, with the results of this research to be available for publication in early summer of 2019. As one of the activities of daily living, participants are provided a meal during the study and awarded a gift card at the completion of the study.

Research shows that students can be taught empathy, and it can be accurately measured with reliable, validated tools. The goal of this research is to document if the use of this chronic pain simulation kit develops empathy in undergraduate and graduate health care students.

Implementation will begin with a brief overview of pain, consent and pre-study surveys before students apply kit activities. Following the "hands-on" experiences and completion of post-study surveys, students will discuss how pain challenges may impact activities of daily living (ADLS) and the possible consequences on physical, psychological and social functioning based on their kit-use experiences. As an interprofessional team with varied roles and skill sets, students will consider interventions from an enhanced empathic perspective. The researchers believe that sharing experiences with peers from interprofessional perspectives helps students process lessons and focus on team problem-solving skills to become more effective in providing care for chronic pain patients.

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