York PhD candidate earns first place in pain research poster competition

York University PhD candidate Brittany Rosenbloom has placed first in a poster competition during the 39th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Canadian Pain Society for her research involving pediatric post-operative pain and opioid use.

photo of Brittany Rosenbloom

Brittany Rosenbloom

Rosenbloom was selected as one of six finalists for the Canadian Pain Society poster competition which was adjudicated on May 24 in Montreal. She is investigating post-operative chronic pain and opioid use after major pediatric surgery, specifically thoracic and spine-related surgeries.

Her study examined pain and opioid use in 265 youth who underwent major surgery and followed them at six and 12 months after being discharged from the hospital. Results from this inquiry indicate that one-third of children report experiencing chronic pain one year after surgery—about the same number reflected in studies in the adult population.

However, the percentage of children using opioids between six and 12 months after surgery is significantly higher than that recorded among adults. Rosenbloom has found that in children, that number is 4.0 per cent at one year, whereas in adults aged 65 and older, it is 1.7 per cent.

“There’s currently not a lot of information on kids’ surgery and how they manage their pain, specifically relating to opioids,” said Rosenbloom. “Comparing the rate of opioid use in the present study with the adult literature is problematic, given our small sample size of children. The adults studies are population-based and look at thousands of data points.”

Further research will look at the predictors of chronic post–surgical pain and opioid use.

Rosenbloom is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at York, working under the supervision of Professor Joel Katz. She completed a master’s in biomedical science at the University of Toronto, and earned her BSc in psychology at the University of Guelph. She has also worked at the Hospital for Sick Children, where data from the winning poster was gathered.

“Brittany is an outstanding student who is contributing in a significant way to our knowledge about the factors associated with the development of chronic post-surgical pain in children,” said Katz, adding he was delighted to hear Rosenbloom placed first in the competition. “To me, the most interesting aspect of Brittany’s study is the finding that although the percentage of kids taking opioid-based medication remained relatively constant from six to 12 months after surgery, there was little overlap in who they were. Seven of the nine kids who were taking opioids at 12 months had not used them at six months.”

The May 24 competition was an annual national contest, with six finalists selected by a panel of judges—three finalists in the category of clinical science (including Rosenbloom) and three in the category of basic science.

She previously earned the 2017 CPS Trainee Research Award in the clinical science category.

Katz has also earned recognition from CPS: in 2016 he was given the Outstanding Pain Mentorship Award; in 2013 he earned the Distinguished Career Award; and in 1997 he was the recipient of the Early Career Award.

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