Advancing Health Equity in Pain Management


The Research Need 

The experience of pain, and the consequences of inadequate pain management, varies widely among individuals and is often affected by sociocultural factors such as systemic bias and discrimination, financial inequality, stigma, and lack of access to healthcare.  

About the Program 

This program supports research to develop and test evidence-based interventions that target health disparities in pain management as well as social factors affecting substance use and mental health. The research includes multi-level interventions that are scalable, can be sustained long-term, and can be rapidly implemented into healthcare systems. 

This research aims to improve patient outcomes in populations that experience health disparities, such as racial/ethnic minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, and sexual and gender minorities. The research will develop, test, and implement evidence-based interventions that enhance access to pain care as well as address issues such as stigma, bias, and discrimination at the levels of individuals, providers, communities, and systems. 

The program will develop culturally and linguistically appropriate approaches, as well as use electronic health records and data analytic approaches to identify systemic disparities and develop appropriate interventions. The program will also develop evidence-based interventions for populations experiencing health disparities who experience pain and other conditions, such as opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders, mental illness, and other chronic health conditions. This research incorporates the lived experience of research participants, focusing on patient-centered, interpersonal approaches that can improve pain outcomes and treatment satisfaction. 

Open Funding Opportunities

There are no Open Funding Opportunities at this time.

Program Details

To date, through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, NIH has funded 11 awards for this program, totaling $15.4 million.

Research Examples 

Research examples supported by this program may include: 

  • Developing and testing interventions for overcoming provider bias in pain management for children from ethnic minorities treated in emergency departments 
  • Developing and testing a trilingual mobile app combined with a telehealth pain coach and primary care coordination to improve pain management for Black, Chinese, and Hispanic/Latino populations 
  • Developing and testing a digitally enabled, collaborative, team-based management approach to pain treatment for rural and Hispanic/Latino cancer survivors 
  • Testing the feasibility and effectiveness of a sustainable, community-supported complementary and integrative health self-management approach for treating back pain in patients from populations that experience health disparities 
  • Developing and testing an integrative pain management program to reduce pain interference and social isolation in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations with chronic pain 

  • Children's Research Institute – Washington, D.C. 
  • Massachusetts General Hospital – Massachusetts 
  • Mayo Clinic – Minnesota 
  • University of California, Irvine – California 
  • University of California, San Francisco – California 
  • University of Minnesota – Minnesota

Funded Projects

Addressing the Chronic Pain Epidemic Among Older Adults in Underserved Community Center: The GetActive+ Study (McDermott-Career Enhancement Supplement)
Sep 28, 2023
Cancer Pain Management: A Technology-Based Intervention for Asian American Breast Cancer Survivors
Sep 19, 2022
Integrative Training Program for Pediatric Sickle Cell Pain
Sep 19, 2022
Equity Using Interventions for Pain and Depression (EQUIPD)
Sep 19, 2022
Culturally Adapted Mobile Treatment of Chronic Pain in Adolescent Survivors of Pediatric Bone Sarcoma
Sep 19, 2022

Closed Funding Opportunities

HEAL Initiative: Advancing Health Equity in Pain Management (R61/R33 Clinical Trial Required)
Oct 08, 2021
HEAL Initiative: Advancing Health Equity in Pain and Comorbidities (R61/R33 Clinical Trial Required)
Jan 20, 2022
HEAL Initiative: Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) regarding the Availability of Administrative Supplements to Support Strategies to Increase Participant Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement in Clinical Studies
Feb 08, 2022