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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.

Woman with physician

Differences in Pain Among U.S. Subpopulations Based on Race and Hispanic Ancestry

A new analysis of data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that pain in U.S. adult Hispanics varies across Hispanic subpopulations. Although many Hispanic subpopulations exhibited lower prevalence of pain than White Non-Hispanics, the pain prevalence for other Hispanic subpopulations were equivalent to or greater than that for White Non-Hispanics. This analysis was conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and was recently published in The Journal of Pain.

February 2021

Child being examined by doctor

Data Shows Underuse of Nonpharmacologic Treatments for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain in Youth, and Overuse of Pharmacological Approaches

Young people receiving care for chronic musculoskeletal pain in the United States are prescribed medicine more often than nondrug treatments such as physical therapy or health education, according to a new study. Published in The Journal of Pediatrics, the study also found that opioid prescriptions in the 18- to 24-year age group are close to the level previously reported in adults with musculoskeletal pain. The analysis was conducted by researchers from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the Université de Montréal.

February 2021

Overweight woman doing a yoga pose

Study Sees Beneficial Role of Yoga in Weight-Loss Program for Adults With Obesity or Overweight
According to a new study, participating in yoga as part of a 6-month weight-loss program is doable for adults with obesity or overweight and may also be helpful for weight loss, with no differences seen between people practicing two distinct styles of yoga.

February 2021

Illustration of a doctor taking a blood pressure reading of a patient

New Insight Into the Neural and Molecular Pathways for Pressure Sensation in Humans

Findings from a new study reveal a critical role for Aβ sensory neurons in pressure sensation and also suggest the involvement of an unknown molecular pathway. Recently published in Nature Communications, the study was conducted by researchers from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the University of California, San Diego, and universities in Sweden and the United Kingdom.

January 2021

3D reconstruction of nerve cells in the brain’s central amygdala

Study Provides New Insights on the Central Amygdala, a Brain Region That Regulates Pain Responses

Nerve cells in the brain’s central amygdala that play opposite roles in modulating pain show striking differences in structure and electrophysiological function, according to a new study from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s intramural research program. The study was recently published in the journal eNeuro.

January 2021

Woman looking at watch

A Disposition Toward Mindfulness Provides Pain-Relieving Benefits When Pain Is Rated in Hindsight

The pain-relieving benefits of a disposition toward mindfulness are most pronounced when people assess pain in hindsight and not immediately after it occurs, according to the findings of a new study led by researchers from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Division of Intramural Research. The study, which was funded by NCCIH, was recently published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

January 2021

African American woman looking contemplative

Study Provides Insights Into People’s Certainty Levels When Rating Their Pain
When asked to rate their pain on a 0 to 10 scale, people reacted faster when they were more confident of their rating, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports. The study, which was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and led by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, also showed that people experience variations in their confidence when rating pain. The findings shed light on factors that guide judgments about pain and suggest that metacognition plays a role.

December 2020

image of person sitting alone

New Study Shows Similarities in Brain’s Craving Responses to Social Isolation and Hunger
People who are forced to be isolated crave social interactions in a way that is similar to how a hungry person craves food, according to the findings from a new study. Chronic social isolation and loneliness are known to be associated with diminished physical and mental health. Little is known, however, about the effects of sudden mandatory isolation on people.

November 2020

Chesler study Neuron

New Insights Into the Molecules and Neurons Responsible for Sense of Touch
Combining two techniques—single cell RNA-sequencing and in vivo functional imaging—has led to new insights into the underlying basis for the complex sense of touch.

November 2020

Physician and patient interacting

New Research Identifies a Potential Brain-Behavioral Mechanism for Pain Relief Associated With the Patient-Clinician Interaction
Harmony in behavior and brain circuitry may contribute to the pain relief associated with the patient-clinician interaction, according to a new study partially supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health published in the journal Science Advances.

October 2020