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NCCIH Research Blog

Using Clinical Practice Guidelines as a Starting Point to Direct Research Work

March 28, 2017


Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.

Director Emeritus

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Earlier this month, I posted about the new American College of Physicians (ACP) clinical practice guidelines on noninvasive treatments for low-back pain. Clinical practice guidelines are important for many reasons, in particular to assist in the diagnosis and health management of the patient, but guidelines don’t always change health care. They do, however, provide a starting point for researchers to consider how to improve care. Researchers can use guidelines to see what gaps exist in the evidence and identify what key research questions have yet to be answered.

Our Center has partnered with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fund several grants to research military and veteran health with a focus on nonpharmacologic approaches to pain and related conditions. In January, we announced that this partnership was expanding to include the Department of Defense (DoD) and additional NIH agencies and entering a new phase with the release of the NIH-DoD-VA Pain Management Collaboratory Funding Opportunity Announcements. It is my hope that investigators will use these new ACP guidelines to recognize gaps in the evidence and direct their work to answer some of these important research questions. Researchers who are unaffiliated with the DoD or VA are also welcome to submit research grant applications to study nonpharmacologic approaches to back pain.

Researchers can learn more about NCCIH interests in pain-related research at


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