Supporting women in neuromodulation to raise chronic pain therapy awareness

Feb 29, 2024

29 February 2024

Health care professionals (HCPs) and patients are working with members of the network Women in Neuromodulation UK (WiNMOD UK) to understand treatment for chronic pain. Defined as continuous and long-term pain lasting for more than 12 weeks1, chronic pain is described as a ‘silent epidemic’ 2 in the UK because it affects an estimated 10.5 million people in the UK -- a quarter of the adult population – but is often underdiagnosed. 

Boston Scientific hosts WiNMOD UK events to raise the visibility of aspiring and established female pain physicians to enhance gender diversity in Neuromodulation and encourage knowledge sharing to  achieve  better patient outcomes. Training HCPs is a major focus for Boston Scientific to support the next generation of female  physicians to improve the patient experience.   

Most recent UK estimates indicate that only 26.7% of current pain physicians are women3. Research points to how women often prefer to be cared for by other women4, reinforcing the need to increased female representation. Women remain vastly underrepresented in European Neuromodulation, despite recent progress to change this trend5.

Success stories

WiNMOD UK members are leading projects to improve pain patients’ and HCPs’ experience of neuromodulation services. Dr Nicola Johnson is the secretary for Pain Train UK, a group of anaesthetic trainees that develops and runs research, audit and quality improvement projects in the National Health Service (NHS). Pain Train UK shares best practices data and insight, so patients benefit from the latest research findings to have a better experience around the management of chronic pain.

Another success story is Dr Kavita Poply, senior clinical lecturer at Queen Mary’s University in London. She is also a member of WiNMOD UK. Low awareness levels about neuromodulation as a career are preventing women from becoming spinal device implanters. Dr Poply has developed qualifications specialising in Neuromodulation and pain management ranging from a postgraduate certificate to a Master’s programme that are flexible in delivery. Students learn about pertinent anatomy, patho-physiology, and radiological assessment building towards clinical implications and suitable indications.

Empowering HCPs

With limited numbers of pain centres in the UK, digital technologies become increasingly important for case management and teaching new ideas.

"Teaching and training workshops are instrumental in connecting aspiring pain physicians to the latest methodologies to transform patient outcomes,” said Dr Sheila Black, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and an ambassador of WiNMOD UK. “Using smart glasses technology with a high-resolution camera and earpiece to share a live feed on patient cases enables HCPs to learn regardless of where they’re physically located. As access to education about chronic pain therapy is a barrier to increase the number of women working in this speciality, it is very exciting to have this type of outreach.”

Building connections

Sharing knowledge in Europe is an aspiration of the WiNMOD UK network. Patients are experiencing medtech innovation in a growing practice in Greece co-led by Dr Martina Rekatsina, a member of WiNMOD UK. She is raising her  profile as a spinal device implanter, and awareness of chronic pain treatment including Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). These are, small devices which are implanted to help provide pain relief by interrupting pain signals before they reach the brain. “Those experiencing chronic pain are afraid to try neuromodulation and many pain doctors are not even aware of medical devices like spinal cord simulators,” said Dr Rekatsina.  “I spend a lot of time educating patients about the benefits and the fact that the SCS procedure can be fully reversed.”

Boston Scientific has hosted three annual meetings for WiNMOD UK since its launch in 2020. Plans are underway to expand WiNMOD UK’s presence in Europe by collaborating with other networks with similar objectives.



1Mills S, Torrance N, Smith BH. Identification and Management of Chronic Pain in Primary Care: a Review. Current Psychiatry Reports. 2016;18:22. Doi:10.1007/s11920-015-0659-9.

2The Silent Epidemic – Chronic Pain in the UK, British Pain Society. 

3,4Johnson, N (2023) et al, Women in pain medicine, British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 131, Issue 5, Pages 801-804. 

5Schaller, K. Women in European neurosurgery. Acta Neurochir 162, 239–240 (2020).