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SDR 21-018 – HSR Study

SDR 21-018
Telehealth CBT to increase engagement in pain treatment among Veterans using prescription opioids
Lisham Ashrafioun, PhD
VA Finger Lakes Healthcare System, Canandaigua, NY
Canandaigua, NY
Funding Period: May 2022 - April 2026


Background: Chronic pain and negative consequences of long-term opioid therapy are related public health concerns associated with significant functional impairment, high psychiatric comorbidity, and premature mortality, particularly among Veterans. Clinical Practice Guidelines for opioid prescribing and pain management recommend using non-pharmacological approaches as first-line treatments. Psychosocial interventions (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy) have strong evidence supporting their ability to improve pain outcomes. Patient beliefs about the stigma associated with psychological interventions, opioid analgesics, ability of psychosocial intervention to improve pain among others can greatly interfere with the patients’ ability to initiate and maintain engagement in psychosocial interventions and other non-pharmacological approaches. Significance/Impact: Without a concerted effort at affecting beliefs that impede engagement in treatment, Veterans who may benefit from the treatment, will not receive it. This can result in continued risk for negative consequences associated with long-term opioid therapy and inadequate pain management. Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy for Treatment Seeking (CBT-TS) is an evidence-based intervention that directly intervenes on beliefs that act as barriers to treatment initiation and retention. By intervening on these beliefs, this study has the potential to improve engagement in psychosocial pain interventions and other non-pharmacological pain treatments, which will improve pain-related interference and functioning and reduce reliance on opioid analgesics. This study addresses VHA/VA Veteran care priorities including opioid use, pain management, and access and directly addresses priorities of the HSR&D Targeted Solicitation for Service Directed Research on Opioid Safety and Opioid Use Disorder. Innovation: The proposed study is the first application of CBT-TS for Veterans with chronic pain who are receiving opioid analgesics–a notably high-risk, treatment-resistant population. This is the first study to directly intervene on thoughts about psychosocial interventions. Specific Aims: The specific aims are to: test the effects of CBT-TS to increase initiation of psychosocial interventions for pain among Veterans receiving opioid analgesics for chronic pain (Aim 1), test the effects of CBT-TS to increase the retention in psychosocial interventions for pain among Veterans receiving opioid analgesics for chronic pain (Aim 2), and evaluate the effects of CBT-TS in improving pain and substance use outcomes among Veterans receiving opioid analgesics for chronic pain (Aim 3). We will also test the effects of CBT-TS on the initiation of and retention to other non-pharmacological pain treatments (Exploratory Aim). Methodology: Participants (N = 300) will be randomized to either the CBT-TS condition or an education control condition. Participants in both conditions will complete assessments on pain, treatment engagement, and opioid use at baseline, and 1-, 3-, and 6-months post-treatment to assess primary, secondary, and exploratory outcomes. Implementation/Next Steps: Results from this study will provide critical information on increasing engagement of psychosocial interventions for pain, which can be used to inform future implementation and dissemination efforts. The research team will work with the VHA National Pain Management and Opioid Safety office and the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation to identify implementation and dissemination efforts. CBT-TS is undergoing current implementation research to increase mental health functioning and this effort could be expanded to also increase treatment engagement of psychosocial interventions for pain and other non-pharmacological pain treatments.

External Links for this Project

NIH Reporter

Grant Number: I01HX003409-01A1

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None at this time.

DRA: Other Conditions, Substance Use Disorders, Musculoskeletal Disorders
DRE: Treatment - Efficacy/Effectiveness Clinical Trial, TRL - Applied/Translational
Keywords: Behavioral Therapy, Best Practices, Symptom Management
MeSH Terms: None at this time.

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