MoNoPly study

Understand what aspects of brain function might be contributing to pain symptoms in people with chronic pain

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Are you living with painful inflammatory arthritis and interested in taking part in a research study? This MoNoPly study aims to understand what aspects of brain function might be contributing to pain symptoms in people with chronic pain.

This project is looking for people who:

  • Are aged 18+.
  • Experience pain from inflammatory arthritis (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis).

What it involves

The study will involve either two or three appointments:

  • At least one visit (and maximum of two) will be at Aintree University Hospital, Liverpool, where you will be asked to complete a number of questionnaires and undergo some tasks that involve recording your brain activity.
  • If you are eligible and willing to undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of your brain, another visit could take place at the University of Liverpool.

Further details of these procedures will be provided to you on a Participation Information Sheet before you decide whether to take part. All information collected about you as a result of your participation in the study would be kept strictly confidential.

The researchers have put in place procedures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at study visits.

Taking part

Please contact Eleanor Brian by email at to express your interest and to receive detailed information about the study, or first you can read about the study in more detail through this link. There is no obligation to take part in the research, either before or after requesting further information, and you can cease involvement in the study at any time without giving a reason.


Participants will receive reimbursement for their time, plus travel and parking expenses, details of which will be provided by the researchers via the email address above.

More about this study

Chronic pain (i.e. pain lasting more than 3 months) can persist in people with inflammatory arthritis despite the best efforts of doctors to manage inflammation. For many patients, treatments such as pain-killing medications simply don’t work well. This may be because these treatments are not targeting all of the causes of the pain. The feeling of pain depends on complex processes in the nervous system including in the brain. Research has found that some changes can occur in the brain (termed “neuro-plasticity”) that are related to chronic pain symptoms, and might even be a cause of why some people develop chronic pain symptoms in the first place. But we don’t understand very well what causes these changes or how to treat them.

With this project, we are measuring the function of the brain as comprehensively as possible, and using this information to analyse what aspects of brain function might be contributing to pain. We hope that in the future, the information from this project will be used to find more effective ways of treating chronic pain.

This study is sponsored by The University of Liverpool and being led by Dr Christopher Brown. The study is being funded by a charity, Versus Arthritis. The research has been reviewed by an independent NHS Research Ethics Committee (REC) to protect your interests.

Are there any reasons why I cannot take part?

The researchers will discuss with you in detail whether there are any reasons why it would be unsuitable for you to take part in this study. In summary, you will NOT be able to take part if you:

  • Are currently or plan to be hospitalised during the period of study.
  • Are on excessive dosages of some medications.
  • Have a history of serious head injury or brain surgery.
  • Have a history of neurological disease.
  • Are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast feeding.
  • Have metal in your body, head, or eyes that cannot be removed, such as a cardiac pacemaker, brain clip, shrapnel, metal filings etc. (This only applies if you take part in magnetic resonance (MR) scanning – an optional part of the study).
  • Are not able to follow the study procedure for other reasons not identified above.

Further information

If you have any further questions regarding this study, please contact For more research stories and opportunities, please check out our latest research.

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January 2022