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Selected Research Results by Date

NCCIH funds a wide variety of research studies, primarily focusing on three areas: mind and body practices, natural products, and pain. We also conduct research at the National Institutes of Health laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland.

This page provides plain language summaries of a few of the studies that NCCIH has supported or conducted. For more information, see this full list of published NCCIH-funded research studies in PubMed.

People around a table looking at papers

Researchers Identify Best Data Source for Monitoring Chronic Pain Among Adults in the United States

According to a new review published in the Journal of Pain, the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is the best single surveillance source for monitoring chronic pain data in the United States. The NHIS is an annual interview survey that collects household health data representing the U.S. civilian, noninstitutionalized population. The review was conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH); Kaiser Permanente Washington, Health Research Institute; Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education; the Office of Pain Policy, National Institutes of Health; and Stanford University School of Medicine.

April 2022


Pregnant woman

New Analysis Shows Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Relationship Between Pregnancy and High-Impact Pain

Non-Hispanic White women in the United States are less likely to have high-impact pain when they’re pregnant than at other times in their lives, but this pattern is not seen in non-Hispanic Black or Hispanic White women, according to a new analysis of national survey data. The analysis, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, was performed by researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research on Women’s Health and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

February 2022


woman in pain

Acute Pain Tolerance Is More Consistent Over Time in Women Than Men, According to New Research

Many researchers exclude women from pain studies because they assume that hormonal changes in women lead to more variability over time and less reliability in ratings of pain. New research, however, shows that women have higher test-retest reliability (a measure of consistency across measurements) on thermal pain measures than men, disproving the assumption used to justify including only men in pain research. The new study, published in the Journal of Pain, was partially funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and led by NCCIH researchers.

February 2022


illustration of person with abdominal pain

New Research Shows Changes in Brain Connectivity in Youth With Functional Abdominal Pain Disorders

Youth with functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPDs) have distinctive patterns of brain connectivity that could support the development of biomarkers and inform new treatment approaches, according to a study by researchers from Michigan State University and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The study, which was partially funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was published in the journal Pain.

January 2022


Microscopic image of Bacteroides fragilis

New Study Identifies a Mechanism by Which Certain Dietary Factors and Intestinal Bacteria Can Affect Immune Responses
Diet-induced changes in the structure of bacterial metabolites produced by the human gut symbiotic bacterium Bacteroides fragilis affect host immune regulation, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Monash University in Clayton, Victoria, Australia. This study, which was partially funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was recently published in Nature.

November 2021


Illustration of a healing monolayer indicating distributed Piezo1 localization (red dots) following scratch generation (top), the development of areas of PIEZO1 enrichment (middle), and subsequent retraction of those areas (bottom).

New Study Identifies Mechanism Underlying Wound Healing and Potential Target for Speeding Healing Process
The ion channel PIEZO1, which spans cell membranes and helps convert mechanical forces into electrochemical signals, regulates skin cells called keratinocytes during wound healing and may be a target for developing medicines that speed up the healing process, according to a new study published in the journal eLife. The study, partially funded by the NIH New Innovator Award and supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), was conducted by researchers at Scripps Research and the University of California, Irvine.

November 2021


Person with hands on back in pain

A Single-Session Pain Management Skills Class Benefits Patients With Chronic Low-Back Pain
A single 2-hour pain self-management skills class is no less effective than an 8-week, 16-hour cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program for reducing pain catastrophizing, pain intensity, and pain interference in adults with chronic low-back pain, according to a new Stanford University study.

August 2021


headache woman_ThinkstockPhotos

Diets Higher in Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce Headache Frequency and Severity in People With Frequent Migraines
Sixteen weeks of treatment with diets higher in omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish reduced the frequency and severity of headaches in people with frequent migraines, according to a study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study, which was partially supported by National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, was published in the BMJ

July 2021


lactobacillusbacteriaprobiotic_newcolors.jpg

A Probiotic/Prebiotic Combination Reduces Behavioral Symptoms Associated With Stress
A synbiotic (a probiotic plus a prebiotic) can reduce behavioral symptoms associated with stress by normalizing the populations of microorganisms in the gut and changing immune cell activity, according to a new study in animals from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, New York. The study was published in Frontiers in Immunology and supported by NCCIH and the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements through the NIH Consortium for Advancing Research on Botanical and Other Natural Products (CARBON) Program.

June 2021


Patient looking at computer

Health Care Providers’ Facial Appearances Shape Patient Expectations About Pain and Pain Treatment
First impressions of medical providers’ online images can impact people’s decisions and expectations about pain and health outcomes even before in-person clinic visits, according to a new study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Led by researchers at NCCIH, the study was recently published in Social Science & Medicine.

June 2021