PAInful Decisions - How chronic pain affects daily decision-making (EC 101059716)

Project Leader: Aleksandra Herman, PhD Dsc




Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain syndrome characterized by widespread pain, multiple tender points, fatigue, and impaired mental functioning. Best practice interventions for chronic pain typically include effortful exercise and long-term treatment – i.e., short-term costs (effort) with delayed benefit (improved pain and function). Problematically, adherence to these treatments is often low, suggesting that people with chronic pain may have altered decision-making related to delayed and effortful rewards. Understanding if long-term pain influences decision-making, what aspects of long-term pain contribute most to decision-making (e.g., emotional versus physical), and the neural underpinnings, are essential given clear relevance of altered decision-making to the adherence to evidence-based management strategies. The PAInful Decisions (PAID) project will address these critical aspects by evaluating delay and effort attitudes in those experiencing FM and in a group of matched pain-free controls. Additionally, I will investigate the unique role of emotions and bodily sensation perception as potential contributing factors to altered decision-making involving delayed and effortful gratification. PAID is a highly innovative and interdisciplinary project, integrating approaches from experimental psychology, behavioural economics, clinical practice, psychophysiology, and neuroimaging. This way, I will be able to comprehensively investigate the role of body-brain interactions in the context of chronic pain. Such a systematic, selective, and interdisciplinary approach to study decision-making in chronic pain is a considerable research challenge, yet the results have an essential meaning for patients’ life and clinical practice, offering to move basic and applied science forward. The project is funded by the European Commission (EC), Horizon Europe Framework Programme (MSCA) no 101059716.