Veterans’ Pain Management At The Heart Of PCORI-Funded Research

How can patients lower their use of opioid medications while managing chronic pain, or eliminate use of these drugs altogether? To answer that question, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) launched a funding initiative in 2016 on Clinical Strategies for Managing and Reducing Long Term Opioid Use for Chronic Pain.

PCORI was established by Congress in 2012 to fund research that can help patients and those who care for them make better-informed decisions about the healthcare choices they face every day, guided by those who will use that information.

Among the projects that PCORI has funded is a Minnesota doctor’s study that targets veterans’ pain. Erin Krebs, MD, MPH, is recruiting now for her study, called “Comparative Effectiveness of Patient-Centered Strategies to Improve Pain Management and Opioid Safety for Veterans.”

Krebs’ study will look at several parameters:

  • Pharmacist-directed care and individualized pain medicine
  • Integrated pain care and individualized pain treatment
  • Option of eliminating opiates by switching to buprenorphine (for randomly selected patients treated with a high daily dose of opioids). Buprenorphine is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) as a medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

The goal, she says, is to see how pain and various pain management options interferes with veterans’ activity. It will also examine veterans dosage of opioid pain medicine, and quality of life metrics, including sleep, fatigue, depression, anxiety and side effects. Patient and provider experiences will be part of the study as well.

Krebs’ researchers are recruiting patients who visit Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities for care, and who report pain even though they use opioids. Researchers will randomly assign patients into one of two groups(Robin, If you put it this way proper “medical grammar” requires giving a statement about each of the two groups, if you remove this sentence no description of groups is needed.) in both groups, patients and their primary care teams will work together to treat patients’ pain. The first results are expected within a year.

Learn more about Krebs’ project by watching a video here.

Men’s Health Network has recently completed a webinar on pain management in men. You can watch the hour-long video here.

Robin Mather

View posts by Robin Mather
Robin Mather is a third-generation journalist with more than 40 years' experience working at major daily newspapers and national magazines. A Michigan native, she now lives in Arizona

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