Angelini Award

An Egas Moniz University student research project focusing on PainChek’s utility in Portugal has been awarded first prize in the 2022 Angelini University Award, promoting innovative projects in the field of health with practical applicability to support people living with chronic illness.

The award win shines a light on the project, Technology to rescue for unrecognized pain in noncommunicative people with dementia: improving processes and humanising care in Portugal, led by a team of students from Egas Moniz University in Lisbon, under the supervision of Associate Professor Mara Guerreiro, PainChek’s Senior Research Scientist Professor Kreshnik Hoti, and PainChek’s Chief Scientific Officer Emeritus Professor Jeff Hughes.

In Portugal, more than 150,0001 people live with dementia, which is one of the diseases with the highest economic burden, leading to significant costs for individuals, families, governments, and the society. Up to 80% of people living with dementia (PLWD) present chronic pain. Mistreated or untreated pain is related to symptoms, such as agitation and aggression, collectively known as behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). BPSD often leads to off-label use of antipsychotic agents, which is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and mortality.

The first prize of €10,000 will be utilised to conduct a usability study involving healthcare professionals and carers using a Portuguese version of PainChek® to help validate the tool as a meaningful digital health innovation in Portugal. As part of the project:

    • Participants will be asked to perform selected tasks in the app in a “laboratory” environment
    • Participants will be asked to use PainChek® in a real-world environment for approximately 1 month
    • Users’ reports of problems and suggestions will be collected through diaries
    • Usability data will be collected using a validated questionnaire. Textual data will be coded into unique usability problems or suggestions
    • Data on effectiveness (tasks time), efficiency (completion rate), and usability scores will be analysed

Morgan Tomé, one of the students involved in the project, commented:

“8 of 10 people with dementia regularly present as having unidentified pain, which can manifest as changes in behaviour and leads to a lower quality of life. PainChek® [provides] a quick and objective measurement of pain in people with dementia… [and] is the only pain assessment tool with regulatory approval at the international level.”

“Mentored by a teacher and specialists from PainChek, we are in a unique position to respond to the objectives of this project and help combat silent pain in people with dementia.”

PainChek’s Chief Scientific Officer Emeritus Professor Jeff Hughes added:

“Dementia is a global problem, as has been the inability to accurately and reliably assess pain in people unable to self-report their pain. This project is significant, as it sees PainChek® reach extend beyond English speaking countries, to give a voice to all people living with dementia, so that they do not suffer in silence in pain.”

Portuguese is the 6th most common language in the world, with estimated 230 million native speakers2.”


[1]Santana I, Farinha F, Freitas S, Rodrigues V, Carvalho Á. The epidemiology of dementia and Alzheimer disease in Portugal: estimations of prevalence and treatment-costs. Acta Medica Portuguesa. 2015 Mar 30;28(2):182-8.
[2] Y Yates. How Many People Speak Portuguese, And Where Is It Spoken? April 30, 2021. Available at

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