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HSR&D In Progress

September 2022

In This Issue: Women's Health Research

»Table of Contents

Targeting Barriers to Pain Self-Management in Women Veterans: Refinement and Feasibility of a Novel Peer-Support Intervention (Project CONNECT)

Feature Article

Takeaway: CONNECT—a home-based intervention that integrates evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain (CBT-CP) with reciprocal peer support (RPS)—is less resource intensive and may reduce costs and improve access to behavioral pain care. This project will optimize the feasibility and acceptability of CONNECT and examine the potential for a future randomized trial.

Although men and women Veterans report high rates of chronic pain, rates are higher in women. VA has placed renewed emphasis on promoting self-management for pain. Patient-centered efforts to address logistical, psychosocial, and other barriers that hamper optimal access to and engagement with cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain (CBT-CP), a widely supported program, may translate to improved treatment access, engagement, adherence, and outcomes for women Veterans.

Accordingly, CONNECT—a home-based pain self-management intervention that integrates an evidence-based CBT-CP program with reciprocal peer support (RPS)—has been developed and is currently being pre-piloted. Although results are promising, substantial refinement and feasibility testing are needed before a full-scale trial. This ongoing study (May 2020–April 2024) will optimize the feasibility and acceptability of CONNECT and examine the potential for a future randomized controlled trial (RCT). Specific aims include:

  • Solicit Veteran feedback and evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a refined eight-week CONNECT program in a sample of 30 women Veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain.
  • Conduct an analysis to classify the percentage of women Veterans who show clinically meaningful improvements in pain intensity/interference and depressive symptoms.
  • Use qualitative methodology to examine women Veterans’ perceptions regarding satisfaction/acceptability of CONNECT and its underlying components.
  • In preparation for an RCT, assess preferences for treatment through qualitative interviews to query motivations, concerns, and factors that influence participation in a future clinical trial.


None yet available.

Anticipated Impact

Because CONNECT is less resource-intensive than CBT-CP and because it is home-based, it may reduce costs and improve access to behavioral pain care, and its success might have implications for male, as well as female, Veterans with pain. It targets previously unaddressed and potentially modifiable factors (such as social support) thought to be relevant for adjustment and uptake of pain self-management among women Veterans.

Mary Driscoll, PhDPrincipal Investigator: Mary Driscoll, PhD, is an HSR&D Career Development Awardee and a clinical research psychologist at HSR&D’s Pain Research, Informatics, Multi-morbidities, and Education (PRIME) Center in West Haven, CT.


Driscoll M, Edwards R, Becker W, et al. Psychological interventions for the treatment of chronic pain in adults. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. September 1, 2021;22(2):52–95.

Murphy J, Driscoll M, Odom A, et al. Post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. PTSD Research Quarterly. 2022;33(2).

View study abstract

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