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NCCIH Research Blog

Partnering on Pain Research: NIH, DoD, and VA Announce Pain Management Collaboratory Funding Initiative

January 4, 2017

Eve Reider, Ph.D.

Program Director

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Partnering on Pain Research: NIH, DoD, and VA Announce Pain Management Collaboratory Funding Initiative

Since 2001, more than 2.5 million U.S. troops have been deployed for Operation New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many service members returning from these operations, and from other military operations, experienced pain, traumatic brain injuries, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal thoughts or behaviors, substance abuse, and/or related comorbidities. Studies report nearly 45 percent of soldiers and 50 percent of veterans experience pain on a regular basis, and there is significant overlap among chronic pain, PTSD, and persistent postconcussive symptoms. In fact, a new analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey shows that American veterans not only experience a higher prevalence of pain but also more severe pain than nonveterans. Although opioids are often prescribed to treat chronic pain, research has not shown them to be very effective and there are many pitfalls to long-term use. Thus, there is a need for nonpharmacologic approaches to complement current strategies for pain management and to reduce the need for and hazards of excessive reliance on opioids.

NCCIH has made pain research in military and veteran populations a priority. In 2014, we first partnered with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fund 13 grants to research military and veteran health with a focus on nonpharmacologic approaches to pain and related conditions. Now, we are pleased to report that this important partnership is expanding to include the Department of Defense (DoD) and additional NIH agencies (NINDS, NIAAA, NICHD, ORWH, and NINR) and entering a new phase with the release of the NIH-DoD-VA Pain Management Collaboratory Funding Opportunity Announcements. The overall goal of this jointly supported NIH-DoD-VA initiative is to develop the capacity to implement cost-effective, large-scale clinical research in military and veteran health care delivery organizations focusing on nonpharmacologic approaches to the management of pain and comorbid conditions. The program will:

  • Establish a Coordinating Center to provide leadership and technical expertise
  • Support the design and execution of a set of high-impact demonstration projects that will involve pragmatic clinical trials
  • Make data, tools, best practices, and resources from these and other projects available.

This initiative includes two funding announcements:

For those interested in applying, letters of intent are due February 1, 2017, and applications are due March 3, 2017. If you have questions regarding this funding initiative, you are welcome to join us Monday, January 23, 2017, for an informational webinar from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET, or direct questions to me, Eve Reider, Ph.D., Clinical Research Branch, NCCIH.


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