Topic Spotlight

Pain Care and Opioids

PCORI Answers Critical Questions

Evidence gaps can make it difficult to know which pain treatments work best while reducing the risk associated with long-term opioid use, given a patient's needs. PCORI funds studies that seek to help patients, clinicians and others answer questions they might have about treatment options, such as:

Patient: After hearing so many stories of people who struggled with opioid addiction, I’m afraid to use these drugs for my low back pain. Would mindfulness meditation work as well as pain drugs for me?

Patient: I don’t feel comfortable speaking up when I don’t understand what my doctor is telling me about managing my chronic pain. What would help me get more involved in making choices about my pain care?

Clinician: I see many patients with chronic pain who have trouble going about their day-to-day business. Other than prescribing them opioids, what are other strategies I could present that have proven effective in reducing chronic pain?

Pain Care and Opioids Study Spotlights

Tackling Chronic Pain While Reducing Opioid Use

This study found that a clinical plan to encourage safe opioid prescribing for pain succeeded in lowering patients’ doses.

People Involved in Chronic Pain Research

Hear about several comparative clinical effectiveness research studies that aim to help patients and those who care for them make better-informed decisions about their options for managing chronic pain.

Non-Opioid Therapies for Chronic Low Back Pain

This study compares how well cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation work in mitigating pain and enabling people to reduce or discontinue opioid use.

PCORI Capitol Hill Briefing on How to Address the Opioid Epidemic

In October 2018, PCORI co-hosted a briefing on how to address the epidemic of inappropriate opioid use in the United States. The briefing featured two PCORI-funded researchers and several other stakeholder representatives. They all discussed the need for research that will lead to more non-addictive treatments for chronic pain for those where such alternatives are appropriate. Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) also spoke, saying the patient-physician relationship must remain at the center of all efforts to manage pain effectively but appropriately. In addition, researcher Beth Darnall, PhD spoke to us about her study.

Pain Care and Opioids Portfolio Snapshots

The most studied populations of interest among PCORI-funded pain care and opiods projects, for noncancer pain-related studies and opioid-related studies.
Funded projects by stage of opioid prevention/treatment: Prevention/Non-opioid alternatives (15), Treatment for opioid use disorder (11), Long-term therapy (9), Prevention/Unsafe prescribing (5), As of April 2019