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VA Health Systems Research

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About PRIME’s Research

More than two-thirds of the Center’s core investigators are VA clinicians, and the Center has a strong track record in research that incorporates, supports, and directly informs clinical practice.

While PRIME’s research is aligned with national research strategies, it is also driven by clinical needs at the local, VISN and national levels, and the Center has conducted ground-breaking work in the use of administrative and clinical research records to address clinical research questions. Additionally, the Center has developed and rigorously evaluated clinical processes using quality improvement processes, longitudinal clinical pilot studies, clinical trials, and large-scale implementation studies.

PRIME investigators also invest considerable energy on dissemination and education of findings that can directly impact clinical practice by conducting regular webinars; hosting mini-residency trainings; offering clinical supervision; mentoring fellows and scholars; and participating on national, regional, and local VHA clinical and training steering committees.

Pain and Opioids Research

Since its inception, pain and pain management have been a focus area of research for the PRIME Center, and this focus has seen continued growth. The Center has added a Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) program; HSR Investigator Initiated Research (IIR) projects; and several National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD), and VA jointly funded pragmatic trials.

The PRIME Center strategic goals have been adopted from the Federal Pain Research Strategy (FPRS), a research agenda created by a federal advisory committee of pain experts and designed to advance research in pain and pain management. These objectives have been further refined and adapted, based on local expertise and ongoing projects. The PRIME Center contributes to the FPRS goal of forming a national research network for pain within VA. Dr. Heapy chairs the National Pain Research Working Group, a group of approximately 80 VA-affiliated pain researchers.

Serving as the first federally-funded national pain center, multiple PRIME investigators contributed significantly to the HSR State of the Art Conference on non-pharmacological pain treatments for chronic musculoskeletal pain. 

Pain, Health Equity, and Research Networks

Projects in this portfolio are designed to a) longitudinally follow patients with pain and better define the epidemiology of pain in disparate populations (women, racial and ethnic groups, older adults); and b) Develop a pain research network.

Pain Management Models of Care

Projects in this portfolio focus on developing, evaluating, and improving models of care for pain management; determining the benefits, risks, and costs of pain treatment; and assessing the effects of policy changes on pain care.

Comorbidities and Chronic Pain

The projects in this portfolio seek to determine the bidirectional relationship between common comorbidities and chronic pain. Projects include:

Self-Management Strategies

The projects in this portfolio seek to determine the optimal approaches for using self-management techniques and strategies to manage chronic pain.

Women’s Health Research

Women Veterans are a minority in VA healthcare and important differences in care have been identified. Based on this important clinical need, the PRIME Center's second focus area is women's health. The Center is supported in this work by long-standing and effective partnerships with VA Office of Women's Health, as well as a large number of cross-COIN and other VA medical center collaborations. The Center has four specific goals for its women’s health research focus.

Goal 1. Advance access to high quality, patient driven healthcare for women Veterans, address gaps in resources and gender variability, improve access to reproductive health care, utilize telehealth to improve access, and use information technology to advance population health.

Goal 2. Integrating women Veterans’ health care delivery through strategic collaborations.

  • Other studies and projects:
    • Patterson Trust: Self-management intervention among women Veterans with chronic back pain.
    • VISN 1 Career Development Awards: Pain and shared medical appointments to refocus treatment; and empowering management of pain outcomes among women via empathic relationships
    • VA Office of Women's Health: Care Coordination and Management—Guideline concordant COPD care for women Veterans; and examining the impact of comprehensive primary care for women Veterans
    • Office of Rural Health: Women Veterans’ Care Coordination and Management

Goal 3. Enhance women Veterans’ experience by providing tools and resources to women's health leaders in the field.

  • VA Office of Women's Health: Identification of women’s health-related conditions in an electronic health record
  • VISN 1 Career Development Awards: Detection of intimate partner violence perpetration among Veterans

Goal 4. Address the unique health needs of women Veterans through enhanced clinical programs and research.

  • Women’s Health Fellowship
  • Women’s Health Research Network: Journal supplements in Medical Care, Gerontologist, and Women’s Health Issues
  • Mentoring of VA HSR Career Development awardees focusing on women’s health

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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.