CQUni hosts German researchers as part of pain attachment project

Published:30 November 2018

University of Heideberg researchers Ann-Christin Pfeifer and Ekaterina Schneider visited CQUniversity this week as part of a collaborative research project looking into chronic pain management.

A collaborative research project between CQUniversity, The University of Queensland, and the University of Heideberg, could help people with pain receive better treatment and avoid relapse in the future.

The German Australian Research Network Oxytocin Pain Attachment (GARNOPA) project is in its early stages, but CQUniversity recently hosted two of the German researchers, Ann-Christin Pfeifer and Ekaterina Schnieder, for a series of meetings and workshops at the Rockhampton and Brisbane campuses.

The pair presented their research to academic staff, clinicians, and students in Rockhampton on 28 November.

CQUni Head of Occupational Therapy Prof Pam Meredith said the five-year GARNOPA project was backed by $1 million in support funding and CQUni was now the main Australian research collaborator.

“We are aiming to find a better way to work with people with pain to support their recovery and decrease the extent of relapse after treatment,” Prof Meredith said.

“We cannot make assumptions that what might work in one country, or in one part of a country, will work elsewhere, so extending this research to Rockhampton may offer people in rural and remote areas a better opportunity to have a voice and be represented in this kind of research.

“This network is in the early stages, and this is the first visit of our German GARNOPA collaborators to Australia. We are developing communication platforms, developing relationships, and sharing knowledge to support the proposed research.”

Ann-Christin said it was hoped that the collaboration would “lead to the development of an attachment-informed treatment approach to chronic pain.”

Ekaterina said she was keen to extend her research into the neuroendocrinological mechanisms of social behaviour.

“We are working on elaborating the analytical procedures in our lab so that we will be able to analyse biological samples from our Australian partners in our lab in the University of Heideberg in the near future,” she said.

Prof Meredith said there was a possibility that the project could see professors from Germany visiting Rockhampton to present full-day workshops on this topic to support training of CQUni academics and local clinicians, as well as developing future research collaborations.

“We look forward to continuing to grow and learn about our respective countries, health models, academic models, similarities and differences. This sharing enriches both our work and ourselves,” she said.