Chronic pain exerts a significant burden on the general population, with approximately 50 million Americans suffering from chronic pain and costs of $635 billion dollars per year to the US healthcare system. Although opioid analgesics are commonly used to treat chronic noncancer pain, there are rising concerns regarding the appropriate use, misuse, and harms such as dependence and overdose. Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 47,000 people in the United States in 2017, and 36 percent of those deaths involved prescription opioids. Given the serious safety concerns and lack of long-term evidence of effectiveness, evidence-based alternatives are needed.

This breakout session at the 2019 PCORI Annual Meeting discusses three PCORI-funded studies that address nonpharmacological approaches for chronic pain, including methodological challenges and lessons learned for conducting comparative effectiveness research.

Session Transcript


Christine Goertz, DC, PhD
Chief Executive Officer, Spine Institute for Quality
Vice Chairperson, PCORI Board of Governors​
Presentation Slides


Beth Darnall, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine 
Stanford University School of Medicine​
Comparing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Peer-Led Support Groups for Patients with Chronic Pain Who Want to Reduce Opioid Use -- The EMPOWER Study
Presentation Slides

Shelley Latin, JD
Patient Representative​

Julie Fritz, PT, PhD
Associate Dean for Research and Distinguished Professor 
Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training, University of Utah
Comparing Treatments for Chronic Low Back Pain
Presentation Slides

Robert Edwards, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesia; Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Pain Management Center
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School​
Managing Long-Term Low Back Pain to Improve Health and Reduce Reliance on Opioid Medicines: Comparing Mindfulness Meditation and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy -- Strategies To Assist with Management of Pain (STAMP)
Presentation Slides


Charissa Fotinos, MD, MSc
Deputy Chief Medical Officer; Director, Behavioral Health Integration
Washington State Health Care Authority

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