Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

More than 25 million American adults have chronic pain, or pain that occurs every day for at least three months. Chronic pain affects people’s ability to work and take part in daily activities. It can also affect other aspects of health. Doctors often prescribe a type of medicine called opioids to treat pain. But these medicines can lead to addiction, overdose, or death.

The Rhode Island Medicaid Chronic Pain Initiative is a program that helps people who go to the emergency room and who have chronic pain to better treat their pain. People in this program can get non-medicine treatments including massage, chiropractic treatment, and acupuncture. But patients don’t always use these services. The research team wants to compare two ways to encourage people to use non-medicine treatments. The first way is texting people information about non-medicine treatments and pain management. The second way is assigning someone to help patients connect to services to help manage their pain.

Who can this research help?

This research can help doctors, pain clinic managers, and hospital directors figure out how to help people with chronic pain get and use non-medicine treatments.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is recruiting 200 people who are enrolled in the Rhode Island Medicaid Chronic Pain Initiative. The team is assigning half of the patients by chance to receive text messages about non-medicine treatments and resources to help them manage pain. The other half of the patients work with peer navigators. Using phone calls, texts, and at-home visits, the peer navigators connect patients with services like housing or transportation. They also work with patients to find treatments and other options than using the emergency room for health care.

Over six months, the research team is following up with patients and reviewing their medical records. The team is looking at how often patients are using the treatments offered by the Chronic Pain Initiative program, or if they feel more ready to do so. They are also asking patients how much pain they have, if they feel better able to manage their pain, and if they are satisfied with the texts or peer navigator program. The team is using patients’ pharmacy records to see how often patients are using medicine to treat their pain. 

The research team interviewed patients, providers, and hospital directors to learn about their experiences with the pain program. The patients gave feedback about what types of messaging would help encourage use of non-medicine treatments offered by the Chronic Pain Initiative program.

Research methods at a glance

Design Elements Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population Adults enrolled in the Rhode Island Medicaid Chronic Pain Initiative (CPI)
  • Text messaging
  • Peer navigators

Primary: change in engagement with CPI program, readiness to self-manage chronic pain, change in self-efficacy to self-manage chronic pain

Secondary: change in engagement with CPI program, readiness to self-manage chronic pain, change in self-efficacy to self-manage chronic pain

Timeframe 6-month follow-up for primary outcomes

Project Information

Traci C. Green, PhD, MS
Inflexxion, Inc.
Optimizing Patient Engagement in a Novel Pain Management Initiative (OPEN)

Key Dates

December 2013
February 2019

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: September 26, 2023