Publications and awards

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The effect of virtual reality on pain in people with spinal cord injury

Persistent unrelieved neuropathic pain is a major problem for a large proportion of people with spinal cord injury. The development of an accessible, inexpensive treatment with few side effects has the potential to benefit this large group of people who are impacted by pain.

Researchers :  Prof Philip Siddall, Dr Philip Austin, Prof James Middleton, Prof Ashley James, Dr Yvonne Tran, A/Prof Paul Wrigley. Site: Greenwich Hospital. Duration: July 2018 – Feb 2020.

A clinically relevant measure for assessing pain modulatory pathways

On completion of our research, it is hoped we can provide a new and simple technique for the assessment of persistent pain. By doing so, it will enable us to identify potential targets for treatment.

Researchers: Professor Philip Siddall, Dr Phil Austin, Professor Ali Asghari and Dr Dan Costa Site: Greenwich Hospital Duration: Feb 2014 to March 2018 Funding Source: Australia & NZ College of Anaesthetists Project Partners: University of Sydney Study Status: In Progress.

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Chronic Pain: A Resource for Effective Manual Therapy

The effective management of pain is a problem which confronts all manual therapists. I authored this book to provide a clear picture of our current understanding of pain mechanisms and shows how that knowledge should inform approaches to treatment. The knowledge of pain science that the book conveys will help the therapist select the best approach to the clinical management of each patient. Different types of pain disorder may require different management strategies which may involve only one discipline or, at other times, a multidisciplinary team which may also include medical clinicians, psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses and other healthcare practitioners as well as manual therapists. The book is divided into three parts:

  • An introduction to the concept of pain and its neurophysiological mechanisms.
  • A review and discussion of current and potential evidence-based evaluation methods.
  • A review and discussion of common types of functional pain disorders.

This approach provides readers with a comprehensive reference to evidence-based information that should enable them to manage their clients’ pain as effectively as possible.


2018 The Russell Cole Award – Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (best grant application for work on effects of virtual reality on pain and brain function in spinal cord injury)
2018 Best research poster prize: Australian Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting for work developing a questionnaire measuring individual levels of central pain modulation
2015 The Russell Cole Award – Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (best grant application for work on assessment of endogenous pain modulation)​

​Selected Bibliography

Austin PD, Siddall PJ, Lovell MR. Feasibility and acceptability of virtual reality for cancer pain in people receiving palliative care: a randomised cross-over study. Support Care Cancer. 2022 May;30(5):3995-4005
Tran Y, Austin P, Lo C, Craig A, Middleton JW, Wrigley PJ, Siddall P. An Exploratory EEG Analysis on the Effects of Virtual Reality in People with Neuropathic Pain Following Spinal Cord Injury. Sensors (Basel). 2022 Mar 29;22(7):2629
​Austin PD. The Analgesic Effects of Virtual Reality for People with Chronic Pain: A Scoping Review. Pain Med. 2022 Jan 3;23(1):105-121.
Austin PD, Craig A, Middleton JW, Tran Y, Costa DSJ, Wrigley PJ, Siddall PJ. The short-term effects of head-mounted virtual-reality on neuropathic pain intensity in people with spinal cord injury pain: a randomised cross-over pilot study. Spinal Cord. 2020 Oct 19
Austin PD, Asghari A, Costa SJ, Siddall PJ. The development of a novel questionnaire assessing alterations in central pain processing in people with and without chronic pain. Scand J Pain (in press) 2019
Austin, P, Lovell, M, and Siddall, P. The Efficacy of Virtual Reality for Persistent Cancer Pain: A Call for Research. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. Oct 58(4), 2019
Austin PD, Siddall PJ. Virtual reality for the treatment of neuropathic pain in people with spinal cord injuries: A scoping review. J Spinal Cord Med. 2019 Feb 1:1-11
Vaughan B, Mulcahy J, Fitzgerald K, Austin P. Evaluating Patient’s Understanding of Pain Neurophysiology: Rasch Analysis of the Neurophysiology of Pain Questionnaire. Clin J Pain. 2018 Sep​
Austin P.D, McLeod R. 2016. Finding peace in clinical settings: A narrative review of concept and practice. Palliative and Supportive Care.
McCabe R, Murray RM, Austin P, Siddall P. 2017 Spiritual and existential factors predict pain relief in a pain management program with a meaning-based component. J Pain Manage.10(2) (in press)
McLeod R, Crandell J, Wilson D, Austin P 2016. Death anxiety among New Zealanders: the predictive role of gender and marital status. Mental Health, Religion and Culture,
Siddall PJ, McIndoe L, Austin PD, Wrigley PJ, 2016. The impact of pain on spiritual well-being in people with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord,
Austin P.D, McLeod R, Siddall PJ, McSherry W, Egan R. 2016. The ability of hospital staff to recognise and meet patients’ spiritual needs: a pilot study.
Austin, P.D, Henderson, S., Power, I., Jirwe, M. & Arlander, T. 2013. An international Delphi study to assess the need for multiaxial criteria in diagnosis and management of functional gastrointestinal disorders. J Psychosom Res, 75, 128-34.
Austin, P. D. & Henderson, S. E. 2011. Biopsychosocial Assessment Criteria for Functional Chronic Visceral Pain: A Pilot Review of Concept and Practice. Pain Medicine, 12, 552-564