Stanford, Intermountain partner on $8.8 million project to curb opioid use

The PCORI-funded study will compare the effectiveness of three approaches to reducing use of the painkillers.
By Bernie Monegain
08:37 AM
Stanford, Intermountain partner on opioid project

Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah. Photo via Google Maps

Stanford Medicine and Intermountain Healthcare researchers will use $8.8 million in funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to test pain management treatment strategies to help patients with chronic pain reduce their use of opioids.

Beth Darnall, Stanford clinical professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine, will lead the study and coordinate with Intermountain’s site principal investigator Joel G. Porter, MD, a family practice physician and pain psychologist and researcher.

The study will compare the effectiveness of psychologist-led cognitive behavioral therapy, peer-led chronic pain self-management classes, and no behavioral treatment.

[Also: Intermountain tweaks Cerner EHR in bid to reduce opioid prescriptions]

Study participants will begin a patient-centered program to taper their opioid use and will also be assigned to one of three groups: one will receive cognitive behavioral therapy, another will learn pain self-management techniques, and the third group will receive no behavioral treatment. The goal is to gauge the patient’s interest and willingness to actively and collaboratively reduce opioid use.

“With the collaboration between the Stanford and Intermountain and the support of the Institute, we have the potential to develop evidence-based treatment plans, tailored to meet the needs of individual patients,” Porter said in a statement. “Our goal is to deliver pain management care that helps our patients achieve meaningful and successful outcomes that last long term.”

Darnall’s study was selected for funding through a PCORI funding announcement specifically focused on long-term opioid use for people with chronic pain.

“This project was selected for PCORI funding for its potential to fill an important gap in our understanding of long-term opioid therapy and to give people living with chronic pain useful information to help them weigh the effectiveness and safety of their care options,” PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, said in a statement.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 with its mission to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.

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