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EFIC Pain Research Strategy

The European Pain Federation EFIC represents the European pain research community and serves in a leading role through the European Journal of Pain, the ‘Pain in Europe’ scientific congress and the development of various scientific position papers to guide clinical management. EFIC sits within a nexus between researchers, research institutions, academia, industry and policy makers.

In 2022, EFIC kicked off the work on our pain research strategy together with a multi-disciplinary steering committee led by Prof. Gisèle Pickering (Chair, EFIC Research Committee), in close collaboration with EFIC Research Projects Advisor Dr. Mary O’Keeffe. Steering Committee members are: Associate Prof. Brona Fullen, Prof. Thomas Tölle, Prof. Thomas Graven-Nielsen, Prof. Andre Mouraux, Prof. David Finn, Associate Prof. Kirsty Bannister, Prof. Susanne Becker, Felicia Cox, Prof. Elon Eisenberg, Prof. Mira Meeus, Deirdre Ryan and Prof Sonia Cottom (Pain Alliance Europe).

The pain strategy will serve as a foundation stone for European pain research plans for years to come. The overall vision will be to optimise understanding and management of pain through promoting high-quality, collaborative basic science, translational, and clinical research.


For any questions, please feel free to reach out to EFIC Research Projects Advisor Mary O’Keeffe here:

Thank you for contributing to the EFIC Research Strategy




Find out more about how and why EFIC intends to develop a European Pain Research Strategy for the next 5 years.

Our vision, mission and values


To optimise understanding and management of pain through promoting high-quality, collaborative basic science, translational, and clinical research.


  • Communicate a clear set of priorities to all research stakeholders
  • Facilitate the generation of high-quality research that is relevant to Europe
  • Advance scientific understanding of pain
  • Advance the management of pain
  • Raise the profile of pain research in Europe
  • Advocate for pain research support in Europe
  • Foster collaboration between research groups and other stakeholders (capacity building)
  • Facilitate/maximise the translation of high-quality pain research into European policy and practice
  • Invest in young pain researchers who have capacity to be future leaders in Europe


  • Multi-professional
  • Patient-centred
  • Collaborative
  • High-quality
  • Innovative
  • Practical
  • Ethical
Our research priorities

The priorities are grouped under two themes, with subthemes:



  • Pathophysiology of pain
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Non-pharmacological approaches to pain control
  • Specificities/Comorbidities/special populations (for instance older adults)


  • Pain in Europe
  • Pathophysiology of pain in different types of pain and pain syndromes
  • Diagnosis, Evaluation and Clinical Management
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Non-pharmacological pain management
  • Specificities/Comorbidities/special populations (for instance older adults)

There are numerous ways to develop a list of Research Priorities. These include Delphi methods (rounds of surveys with expert stakeholders), modelling and trend analysis (to predict future health burdens), scenario discussion, matrix approaches (using quantifiable data to consider the potential effect), and discrete choice methods (to assess trade-offs). There is no unique gold standard method, and dependence on any one method could create rigid priorities that may be biased by the participants involved in the method. To overcome these issues, EFIC are undertaking a multi-attribute decision making process. It is described below.

STAGE 1: Steering committee discussions

  • Group discussions (online format) between members of the EFIC Research Strategy Steering Committee. The SSC of relevant experts (10 to 12) is comprised of members of the EFIC Research Committee and of external experts. These include different healthcare professionals and is composed of representatives of patients, basic science research, nursing, psychology, physiotherapy, medical clinicians, pharmacology, allowing multi-disciplinarity and a multi-professional approach, with balanced gender ratio.

Stage 1 will produce an initial set of research priorities.

STAGE 2: Literature reviews

  • Review of questions produced by previous pain priority setting projects internationally. For example, the UK Versus Arthritis Roadmap, the US NIH Pain Research Strategy, EULAR RheumaMap, and the German Pain Society Research Strategy.
  • Review of the websites of the James Lind Alliance, their priority-setting partnerships and their priorities list.
  • Review of the Cochrane Priority Setting Methods Group ( website and the Cochrane Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care ( priority lists for reviews.
  • Review of EFIC Position and Opinion Papers. EFIC convenes independent experts to develop scientific position papers, opinion papers, clinical practice recommendations and standards for the management of pain. These papers can identify research priorities across a number of areas including Opioids in the management of chronic non-cancer pain, opportunities and challenges in Translational Pain Research, and medical cannabis in the management of chronic pain.

Relevant Stage 2 findings with be combined with Stage 1 to form of list of priorities for inclusion in the survey (Stage 3).

STAGE 3: Survey


A web based cross-sectional survey of European pain scientists. We will report the survey according to the Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys (CHERRIES). Ethical approval will be sought from the Clermont Université health research ethics committee.

Recruitment and participants

We will purposively recruit our participants through different avenues:

(1) The Research Strategy Steering Committee will play a role in the initial development of a list of potential pain scientists;
(2) EFIC’s Pain Scientist Network ( This is EFIC’s internal listing of pain scientists, organised by their fields of research expertise and activity;
(3) Expertscape. Expertscape uses the number of published papers indexed in MEDLINE, year of publication, type of publication, the journal in which the paper was published, and the order of authorship to score and rank researchers in particular fields. The search will be performed in July 2022 using the Pain keywords suggested by the Expertscape website; and
(4) Snowballing – participating researchers may suggest other researchers to contact.

Data collection

The survey will be developed by members of the Research Strategy Steering Committee. Participants will be provided with a list of Research Priorities under two themes: 1. Basic Science Research and Translational Research, 2. Clinical Research. Participants will be asked do they agree or disagree with the inclusion of each priority in the EFIC Research strategy (Yes/No), and to rate the importance of each Priority. Response options will be ‘Not at all important’, ‘Low importance’, ‘Important’ and ‘Very important’. Under the themes, participants will be asked to select their one Top Priority from the lists provided. Participant characteristics including years research experience will be collected.

The survey will be piloted by 2-3 EFIC staff. The final survey will be administered using ‘Survey Monkey®’ software. The opening page will include an information statement outlining the expected length of time to complete the survey (10 min), how data would be stored and protected, the purpose of the survey, and a tick box for informed consent.


We will use descriptive statistics (counts and percentages) to report agreement or disagreement with the proposed list of research priorities. Content analysis will be used to assess suggested priorities. Strong agreement will be defined as… Stability will be defined as less that …% change of results when compared to the previous round.

STAGE 4: Consensus meeting

We will hold a virtual consensus meeting to develop a final version of the Research Priorities. We will invite all members of the Steering Committee. Results of the survey will be sent to attendees prior to the meeting and discussed at it. Following the meeting, the project leads will refine the draft version of the Research Strategy and circulate it to the Steering Committee and meeting attendees for feedback. The Strategy will be revised, where necessary, by the Steering Committee, in response to the feedback collected.

Our implementation plan

We will utilise several means to implement our Research Strategy:


  • Disseminate the strategy via targeted briefing papers and communication tools to reach policy makers, funders and key institutions
  • Roll-out the actions of the strategy directly applicable to EFIC, including any new working groups, task forces, scientific papers etc
  • Expand on EFIC’s recently launched Pain Scientist Network
  • Orientate any new funding opportunities provided by or guided by EFIC
  • Seek new funding opportunities via industry partners
  • Disseminate the strategy via national partners (e.g. EFIC national chapters) and offer presentations at scientific meetings – enable translation in national languages if needed
  • Network existing European pain research initiatives and build synergies for future collaboration
  • Monitor and disseminate future research calls to assess strategy communication success
  • Bolster EFIC’s position as a partner in research consortia through its intellectual leadership
Evaluating our progress
  • Systematic yearly evaluation will be carried out to ensure the quality and viability of the projects
  • Increase in research collaborations
  • Funding successes
  • Involvement in research consortia
  • Growth in Pain Scientist Network participation
  • Meeting invites
  • Educational content produced relevant to our four main themes