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EP3 2016 Headliners – Frank Keefe

By Timothy Cocks Education for all 09 Oct 2015

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Five speakers to ignite your senses.
Three days to learn, connect and
be inspired.
One unique Explain Pain event.

EP3 2016 is expanding the international flavour, adding another speaker and delivering the most diverse EP3 line up yet – combining neuroimmunology, psychology, sensory processing research, education psychology, conceptual change science, brains, bodies, space and clinical pain science.

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the rock star line up at next years EP3 event. First up is Professor Frank Keefe:

Frank Keefe is the Editor-in-chief of Pain. We could stop right there… but we won’t, because Frank is also the author of over 400 publications, a world leading expert in the study of pain coping processes, the role of pain coping and emotion in explaining pain and disability and novel psychosocial interventions for pain.

Frank is part of the Psychology and Neuroscience Department at Duke University with clinical interests in individual and group cognitive behavioural therapy, spouse training and psychosocial interventions to prevent persistent pain. Frank brings with him a world of experience and expertise and continues in the footsteps of fellow Americans Mark Jensen (2014) and Kevin Vowles (2015) in bringing the latest in clinical psychology to enhance Explain Pain interventions.

Q & A

We found a question and answer that Frank did a little while back, here’s just a sample:

What is Health Psychology?
FK:  Health Psychology is a field within psychology that seeks to advance the contributions of psychology to the understanding of health and illness through basic and clinical research, education, and service activities and encoruages the integration of biomedical information about health and illness with current psychological knowledge.

How did you become interested in Health Psychology in general and pain research in particular?
FK:  As a graduate student in psychology and in my early careeer I was active in doing some of the early research on biofeedback, so health psychology was a logical direction for my interests.  My interests in pain stemmed from a problem I experienced with a herniated disk in my lower back that led to a back surgery and a long and painful recovery.

What are some of the signs that someone trying to deal with a chronic illness should seek professional help?
K:  In terms of psychological changes, one should be concerned if an individual has persistent problems with withdrawing from others, weight loss, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, sleep problems, irritability, and pronounced feelings of discouragement and depression.

Do you think there will be major advances in the near future on managing chronic pain?
K:  Yes, particularly in two areas: 1) early intervention, 2) tailoring treatments to the unique needs of the patient.

To the literature 

As mentioned above, Frank has been prolific in adding to the scientific literature on pain. Below are just a small selection of papers (all open access) demonstrating the breadth and depth of this work:

Psychosocial interventions for managing pain in older adults: outcomes and clinical implications.

Interest in the use of psychosocial interventions to help older adults manage pain is growing. In this article, we review this approach. The first section reviews the conceptual background for psychosocial interventions with a special emphasis on the biopsychosocial model of pain. The second section highlights three psychosocial interventions used with older adults: cognitive behavioural therapy, emotional disclosure, and mind-body interventions (specifically mindfulness-based stress reduction and yoga). The final section of the paper highlights important future directions for work in this area.

A great review providing some thoughts for helping people in this often missed group.

Pain in its Environmental Context: Implications for Designing Environments to Enhance Pain Control

Environmental factors that can be easily manipulated appear to decrease the use of analgesic medication which can eliminate troublesome side effects from medications, decrease medication costs, and enhance quality of care and outcomes.

Would greater pain reductions result if a patient could view an outdoor landscape from his hospital bed, while listening to his favorite music? Medical environments might involve computer generated nature scenes or art images projected on the walls of patients’ hospital rooms, perhaps combined with background music of the patient’s choice. Patient-generated decorations would make for environments that are more engaging than average hospital rooms. Research should attempt to determine the most effective environment for a person’s pain reduction, and then find a way to program it. There is great promise for increased pain control and decreased patient suffering by combining conventional pain management with environmental alterations.

My personal favourite of this little group – some lovely links to almost every category of SIMs.

Pain and Emotion: A Biopsychosocial Review of Recent Research

Neurobiological research documents the neural processes that distinguish affective from sensory pain dimensions, link emotion and pain, and generate central nervous system pain sensitization. Psychological research demonstrates that greater pain is related to emotional stress and limited emotional awareness, expression, and processing. Social research shows the potential importance of emotional communication, empathy, attachment, and rejection.

Emotions are integral to the conceptualization, assessment, and treatment of persistent pain. Research should clarify when to eliminate or attenuate negative emotions, and when to access, experience, and express them. Theory and practice should integrate emotion into cognitive-behavioral models of persistent pain.

A great review of a decade of research into pain and emotions looking at some of the controversies, advancements and future directions for research.

Yoga for Persistent Pain: New Findings and Directions for an Ancient Practice

Yoga for managing persistent pain is an ancient practice. A small, but growing body of randomized clinical trials suggests that yoga may have promise for persistent pain conditions. Methodologically rigorous research in this area is in its early stages and further research is needed. Yet, clinicians should be aware that yoga could be used as a tool to help patients better address the biological, social, and psychological aspects of persistent pain.

Just what it says on the tin.

Secure your place now

Register and pay online here

Prefer to register with good ol’ fashion pen and paper? You can do that too – here.

Lodge your interest and be kept up to date (but remember, this won’t secure you a place, you need to pay to do that!) here.

One more thing…

Described as ‘probably the best little pain meeting in the world’, PainAdelaide will be held on April 4, the day following EP3. PainAdelaide tickets won’t be publicly available for purchase until much later this year (and always sell out quickly) so this way you can be ahead of the field and lock in your place.

For an amazing four day experience we are pleased to be able to offer a special ‘pre-sale’ ticket for EP3 and PainAdelaide 2016 – a great deal for our overseas guests in particular!

Just select the EP3 and PainAdelaide Package in any of the payment methods above.


Looking forward to seeing you in gorgeous Glenelg in April 2016.

-Tim Cocks

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Click on the image above for further details and ticket purchasing options




  1. Hi EG,

    The paper is a review of the scientific literature – it belongs in an entirely different category to simple, folksy heuristics such as “What you resist, persists” and “like attracts like”, or anecdote – “We’ve all seen or experienced this”

    The paper is not an opinion piece, knowledge show or statement of personal beliefs either. Additionally, there are seven, seven, other authors of the paper – to suggest that any one of those authors doesn’t understand something based on the reporting of a review of the literature seems more than a bit facile.

    Who knows, Frank Keefe might agree with you, but if you close yourself off to hearing what he has to say, you’ll never know. There’s a risk of confirmation bias when this occurs – I think that’s a worry.

    My best

    1. Quick note – previous comments have been deleted at the request of the commenter.

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