Advancing clinical research in pain management is a core goal of the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®. HEAL supports both new clinical trials and the expansion of existing programs to help establish evidence-based guidelines for treating pain with non-opioid therapies. HEAL also supports research to ensure that safe and effective pain management therapies are available to all patients, including populations experiencing health disparities.

Discover HEAL-funded pain management clinical trials

Research Programs

Many patient populations experience health disparities in pain management and access to care. These include racial/ethnic minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, and sexual and gender minorities. The Advancing Health Equity in Pain Management program supports research to develop and test evidence-based interventions to eliminate these disparities at the level of individuals, providers, communities, and systems.

The Acute to Chronic Pain Signatures program is building a comprehensive data set to help predict which patients will recover from acute pain associated with surgery or injury, and which patients will develop long-lasting chronic pain.

The Back Pain Consortium (BACPAC) research program conducts studies to better understand common pain conditions, such as chronic low back pain; improve methods to characterize pain; and develop improved diagnostic and treatment tools for pain. The program also supports research to identify, prioritize, and test personalized treatment approaches based on detailed analyses of the nature and cause of back pain in individual patients.

The Discovery and Validation of Biomarkers, Endpoints, and Signatures for Chronic Pain program aims to advance the discovery and rigorous validation of biomarkers for pain research and treatment. Biomarker signatures reflect human pain physiology, including in people with more than one chronic pain condition. Such signatures have the potential to refine patient selection for participation in clinical trials and thus to improve the efficacy of clinical trials and further clinical development. 

The Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net) conducts early phase clinical trials testing experimental non-addictive treatments for acute and chronic pain.

The Hemodialysis Opioid Prescription Effort (HOPE) consortium conducts an integrated therapeutic approach for people receiving hemodialysis, who are often prescribed opioids for pain management. The HOPE consortium supports studies to develop and test the combination of various safe and non-addictive treatment approaches in this population.

The Pain Management Effectiveness Research Network (ERN) conducts Phase 3 clinical trials designed to evaluate the effectiveness of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies for a broad array of acute and chronic pain conditions to guide clinical practice in real-world settings.

The Pragmatic and Implementation Studies for the Management of Pain to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (PRISM) program conducts clinical research to integrate evidence-based pain management interventions for a range of pain conditions (often multimodal strategies) into real-world settings within the U.S. health care system.

People living in rural areas are more likely than those in non-rural regions to live with chronic pain and also have limited access to non-opioid pain management approaches. The Prevention and Management of Chronic Pain in Rural Populations program supports clinical research to determine the effectiveness of different pain management interventions in real-world rural settings.

The Reducing Opioid-Related Harms to Treat Chronic Pain (IMPOWR and MIRHIQL programs) use a holistic treatment approach to develop and test combined interventions for pain and opioid use disorder in specific health care system settings. Examples of interventions being tested include psychotherapy, medications for opioid use disorder, exercise, and pain self-management. The program also supports research to reduce harm and improve quality of life for people with chronic pain taking opioids long-term.

HEAL KIDS (Knowledge, Innovation and Discovery Studies) Pain Program

Find out about funding opportunities for the HEAL KIDS Pain: Acute Pain Clinical Trials Program and Resource and Data Center. View the technical assistance webinar recording and Frequently Asked Questions.

Learn more about the program

NIH research program to explore the transition from acute to chronic pain

The National Institutes of Health has launched the Acute to Chronic Pain Signatures (A2CPS) program to investigate the biological characteristics underlying the transition from acute to chronic pain.

Read the press release

PURPOSE Network: NIH HEAL Initiative's Coordinating Center for National Pain Scientists

PURPOSE aims to connect pain researchers across the continuum of pain research, from all disciplines and at all career stages.

Learn more about PURPOSE