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Erasmus+UPPScAle Project

Erasmus+ Project At a Glance

This strategic partnership is a powerful transnational collaboration between international institutions offering European bachelor Physiotherapy programmes aiming to innovate, improve and standardise undergraduate physiotherapy pain science curricula.

Click here to discover more about our project team

  • Objective: With this research we aim to innovate, improve and standardise undergraduate physiotherapy pain science curricula.
  • Results: This 24-month project will result in three intellectual outputs (IOs), housed on an open pain education resource (OPER).
  • Duration: 17 January 2022 - 16 January 2024

We will take the following steps:

  1. NEEDS ANALYSIS: Partners in pain science curricula will be bench-marked against international best practice (European Pain Federation) to identify gaps in learning.
  2. CAPACITY BUILDING: Partners will participate in two week-long ‘train the trainer’ schools to augment their knowledge / skill set in the curriculum incorporating innovate teaching and learning practices based on evidence-based professional practice incorporating the latest pain science knowledge.  
  3. ADDRESSING LIMITATIONS: A dynamic Open Education Resource will be developed that addresses identified limitations to support academics with student learning across Europe and beyond creatively using a diversity of teaching and assessment methods in order to expand the opportunity for students to learn (e-learning, problem-based learning and case studies). It will also incorporate outputs from IO1 (methodology of curriculum enhancement process) and IO2 (train-the-trainer programme resources).

Harmonising pain knowledge and skills among physiotherapists in Europe.

Work Package 1 is led by University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland. Work Package 1 of the UPPScAle project consists of curriculum benchmarking of Bachelor Physiotherapy pain science curricula against international best practice (EFIC Pain Physiotherapy curriculum) to identify gaps in learning

Work Package 1 involves a two stage process.

  1. Part 1: Needs analysis. A curriculum review process mapping partners current pain science curricula against international best practice (EFIC Pain Physiotherapy curriculum).

  2. Part 2: Focus group with people living with pain, students and recent graduates and academic staff to explore topics that should be included in a curriculum, planned and facilitated by experts in Teaching and Learning.

Part 1: Mapping pain science education in Undergraduate Physiotherapy Programmes: The UPPScAle Project

A curriculum review process maps partners' current pain science curricula against international best practice for graduate physiotherapists (Core curriculum for the European Diploma in Pain Physiotherapy), facilitated by experts in curriculum design in University College Dublin.

A mapping matrix will be sent to the principal investigator in each partner site (Ireland, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia, The Netherlands) to share with their programme colleagues to complete. Categories included: 

  1. Identifying the year of their programme where the content was taught,
  2. The assessment format utilised (practical exam / OSCE / simulation, a written exam, multiple choice question paper, group presentations or clinical education placements), and 
  3. Whether the specific topic was fully or partially taught.

Part 2: Augmenting Physiotherapy pain science curricula: The UPPScAle Project

The objective of part 2 is to identify key topics and teaching approaches to augment pain science curricula in undergraduate physiotherapy programmes across five European universities.

A co-design hybrid focus group (FG) will be undertaken with academic physiotherapists and students from five universities across Europe (Ireland, The Netherlands, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania). Patient representatives from Chronic Pain Ireland (registered charity supporting people living with pain) also attended. 

To inform the FG De Bono’s ‘6 Hats’ Theory will be utilised2. This theory identifies six distinct lines of human thought in problem solving. Each is called a ‘hat’ and assigned a colour: white (information and facts); yellow (benefits and positives); black (difficulties and dangers); red (feelings, intuition); green (new ideas and possibilities); blue (thinking processes). Mixed groups (academics, students and patients) will independently discuss two specific ‘hat’ themes (20 minutes each), after which participants will come together to give feedback.

Incorporating the patient and students voice in the curriculum is essential and easily facilitated using co-design FGs. Key themes will be further discussed and incorporated into the partners curriculum to enhance pain science education in physiotherapy programmes.


  1. Core curriculum for the European Diploma in Pain Physiotherapy 
  2. De Bono, E. (1985). Six Thinking Hats. London: Penguin Books.

(opens in a new window)https://europeanpainfederation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/EFIC-Pain-Physiotherapy-Curriculum1.pdf

Work Package 2 is led by Univerza V Ljubljani (UL), Slovenia. Work Package 2 consists of creating a comprehensive pain science curriculum that is delivered at the Teach-the-Teacher Pain Schools to address limitations in knowledge in certain topics / areas within the enhanced curriculum that were identified in WP1.

These topic areas and training needs will be reviewed, categorised and mapped to one of the two Train-the-Trainer Pain School programmes. Where relevant, specific topics will be introduced in the first 'Train-the-Trainer’ Pain School and revisited / explored more deeply in the advanced 'Train-the-Trainer’ Pain School. Based on the programmes content an international panel of experts will be invited to deliver specific aspects of the programmes and collaborate with Stichting Hogeschool Utrecht and University of Craiova (UCV) to develop innovative and evidence-based schedules for the two training programmes.

To accompany the Train-the-Trainer Pain Schools a manual will be developed. This manual contains reference material (lecture objectives, scientific literature, best practice guidelines, key relevant references and website addresses etc) deemed relevant to the particular topics. A short assessment piece allows participants to self-test their knowledge after the lecture. This resource will be widely available allowing for a much greater reach, with all the UPPScAle partners in a position to act as national resources for other HEIs having completed the two 'Teach-the-Teacher’ Pain Schools and contributed to the development of the manual.

This manual aims to support academic staff in augmenting their pain science knowledge using pedagogical approaches that will enrich their teaching and learning activities using innovative, student-centred pedagogical approaches. The manual will be translated into partners native language.

Materials, recorded lecturers, the manual and reflective diary will be uploaded to the Open Education Resource (OER).

Work Package 3 is led by Universitatea Din Craiova, Romania. An open access database, or Open Education Resource, will hold the materials developed for and during the Pain Schools Outputs, that can be accessed by partners and relevant stakeholders. This resource will address identified limitations to support academics.

WP1 dissemination

October 2022, Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP)

Two conference poster presentations summarising WP1.

Mapping Pain Science Education in Undergraduate Physiotherapy Programmes: The UPPScAle Project

Augmenting Physiotherapy Pain Science Curricula: The UPPScAle Project

September 2022, European Network of Physiotherapy in Higher Education (ENPHE) Conference

Two conference poster presentations summarising WP1.

Mapping Pain Science Education in Undergraduate Physiotherapy Programmes: The UPPScAle Project

Augmenting Physiotherapy Pain Science Curricula: The UPPScAle Project


The (opens in a new window)first newsletter was sent to newsletter subscribers in October outlining the aims, objectives and project partners involved in the UPPScAle project.

The (opens in a new window)second newsletter was sent in November which summarised WP1 and the dissemination.

Social media

The three social media channels were updated with project news.

WP2 dissemination

The schedule for the Train-the-Trainer school in Utrecht, the Netherlands, available (opens in a new window)here.


The third newsletter was/will be sent in December outlining the Teach-the-Teacher pain school 1.

Centre for Translational Pain Research

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7777 | E: ctpr@ucd.ie