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Research group

The OPEN Study

OPpen-study-logoOnline Psychological Treatment for People with Painful HIV-related Peripheral Neuropathy (The OPEN Study) 

The OPEN study aims to understand how people with HIV and pain in their feet cope with this pain, and to develop and test a new psychological treatment approach to manage the impact of this pain on people’s lives. 

Why are we doing this study?
  • Many people with HIV experience pain in their feet due to peripheral neuropathy, which may be related to HIV or its treatments. This pain is often not relieved by medical treatments.
  • Psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), have been shown to help improve functioning and quality of life in people with chronic pain. However, little is known about whether CBT is helpful for people with HIV and peripheral neuropathy.
  • It can be difficult to access CBT for managing pain, so we are working to develop a version of CBT delivered over the internet to increase the availability of this treatment for people with HIV and peripheral neuropathy.
What are we doing?

Part 1

  • Starting January 2016: We are undertaking a systematic review of the evidence about psychological factors (e.g., depression, anxiety, thinking patterns, coping behaviours, social support, etc) associated with chronic pain in people living with HIV. This review will help us identify factors that are important to consider within CBT for people with HIV and peripheral neuropathy.

See a summary of the protocol for this review at the PROSPERO website, 

Part 2 - Now recruiting participantsOPEN-ad

  • From November 2016 to June 2017 we will conduct interviews with approximately 30 people living with HIV and peripheral neuropathy.
  • The interviews will ask people how they cope with pain, and their thoughts on a version of CBT delivered over the internet.
  • If you would like to participate in this study please see the recruitment advertisement and participant information sheet for more details.

 Part 3

  • We will develop the new online CBT for people with HIV and peripheral neuropathy based on data gathered from the systematic review and interview study.
  • We will ask people living with HIV and peripheral neuropathy to provide feedback on the new treatment once developed.
  • From May 2018 – August 2019 we will conduct a small randomized controlled trial comparing the new online CBT to a control group to see how satisfied people are with this treatment and whether it is feasible to do a larger study. Approximately 70 participants with HIV and peripheral neuropathy will be recruited for this study.

This study is independent research supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dr Whitney Scott, PDF-2015-08-059).The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health.   


The OPEN Study: Pain Management Treatment Interviews has ethical approval from the York and Humber-Sheffield National Research Ethics Committee (Ref: 16/YH/0367).

Study team
  • Dr Harriet Kemp, Imperial College London 
  • Chinar Arkuter, MSc 
  • Paul Clift (community advisor) 
  • Paul Decle (community advisor)

UK-CAB: UK Community Advisory Board (UK-CAB) is a network of HIV treatment advocates. We are pleased to have provided feedback on the study.





Contact us

Please contact Dr Whitney Scott if you would like to know more about the OPEN Study:

Whitney Scott, PhD
NIHR Postdoctoral Fellow
Health Psychology Section
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience
King's College London
5th Floor Bermondsey Wing, Guy's Campus
London SE1 9RT

Tel: 020 7188 5421




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