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Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D In Progress

December 2016

In this Issue: Improving Treatment of Pain among Veterans
» Table of Contents

A Walking Program to Reduce Pain among Black Veterans

Ongoing study

Although perceived effectiveness of chronic pain treatment is low among all VA patients, black patients are less likely than whites to perceive their treatment as effective, and are more likely to experience functional limitations due to pain. There is growing consensus that chronic pain is best addressed by a biopsychosocial approach that acknowledges the role of psychological and environmental contributors to pain, some of which differ by race and hence contribute to disparities. For example, blacks experience greater pain-related fear and lower self-efficacy in coping with pain (psychological contributors), and neighborhoods that make physical activity difficult (environmental contributors). However, there is a lack of effective interventions to improve pain treatment among minority patients, particularly those that target psychological and environmental contributors. This study will test the effectiveness of a multi-component intervention that specifically targets known barriers to effective pain care among black Veterans with chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain.

Investigators will test a telephone-delivered intervention that emphasizes walking and incorporates Action Planning, Motivational Interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, as well as the use of pedometers that are expected to improve core chronic pain outcomes in black Veterans. Investigators also will:

  • Examine potential mediators targeted by the intervention,
  • Explore whether the intervention affects the use of healthcare services and/or the use of opioid analgesics, and
  • Determine whether the intervention is also effective in non-Black Veterans.


Study findings are expected to result in a non-pharmacological intervention, delivered by telephone, designed to reduce pain and improve functioning among black patients with MSK pain, by promoting walking.

Principal Investigator: Diana Burgess, PhD, is part of HSR&D's Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research (CCDOR) in Minneapolis, MN.

See HSR&D Project Abstract

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