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This programme of research is focused on investigating common Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions (COPCs), such as temporomandibular disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. This research is particularly interested in the development of equitable health services that reflect best-practice, interdisciplinary recommendations for care.

Please see our website that provides further discussion on what a COPC is and what we know about them. We have also provided a resource for one COPC, Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) that aims to provide more information on what they are and how they can be managed.

Research Programme Principal investigator: Dr Carrie Falling, Lecturer, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago

Project Areas:

Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

This research is focused on supporting the development of equitable healthcare for people with TMD. Projects include:

Framework for interdisciplinary pathways of care for TMD in New Zealand. Led by Dr Carrie Falling and Mr Matthew Dick, supported by a 2021 Health Research Council of New Zealand Health Delivery Research Activation Grant. Early research activities included:

  • Undergraduate physiotherapy Māori summer studentship (Mr Sharn Waerea). Project included clinical audits, review of current literature, and cross-disciplinary relationship building.
  • "Finding their way to physiotherapy: patients' perspectives of seeking care for temporomandibular disorders in Dunedin, New Zealand". Qualitative study led by Dr Carrie Falling and Ms Donna Keen.
  • "Physiotherapists' perspectives about temporomandibular disorders". Physiotherapy Honours' project (Ms Loren Davidson) supervised by Drs Carrie Falling and Ally Calder.

Collaborating investigators:

Mr Matthew Dick (Director of Clinics, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago)
Donna Keen (Research Coordinator, Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research CHARR, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago)
Mr Elijah Areli (Lecturer, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago)
A/Prof Daniel Ribeiro (School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago)
Dr Simon Guan (Lecturer, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago)
Dr Ajith Polonowita (Head of Discipline of Oral Medicine, University of Otago)
Dr Kura Lacey (Dentist, Kōhatu Centre for Hauora Māori, University of Otago)
Prof Peter Crampton (Kōhatu Centre for Hauora Māori, University of Otago)


Falling, C., Dick, M., (2022, September). Developing an interdisciplinary pathway of care for New Zealanders with temporomandibular disorders. Oral presentation at the Physiotherapy New Zealand Conference.

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