Integrative Management of chronic Pain and OUD for Whole Recovery (IMPOWR)

healthcare provider talking to patient


The Research Need

It’s estimated that 40% to 60% of individuals who have an opioid use disorder (OUD) also experience chronic pain. Evidence-based interventions exist for both the treatment of pain and for the treatment of OUD. Yet less is known about effective strategies to meet the needs of people with OUD who also live with chronic pain. Systems providing care for these individuals are often fragmented, and suffer from limited resources, expertise, and communication. Further, more research is needed to better understand the effectiveness of integrated treatment plans, and the challenges and barriers toward sustained implementation. People with both pain and OUD often need tailored and integrative care to manage their overall health and support recovery.

About the Program

The NIH HEAL Initiative supports the Integrative Management of chronic Pain and OUD for Whole Recovery (IMPOWR) network of multidisciplinary team science collaborations to address the needs of people with pain and a substance use disorder. Research in the IMPOWR network will develop and test combined interventions such as psychotherapy, medications for opioid use disorder, exercise, and pain self-management in specific healthcare system settings. Research in the IMPOWR network will focus on the whole patient, recognizing the influence of stigma, health inequities, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Additionally, cost-effectiveness analyses, characterization of implementation barriers/solutions, and partnerships with important stakeholders will maximize the potential that the evidence-based interventions will be incorporated into standard practice.

Program Details

Through the NIH HEAL Initiative, NIH awarded grants to four research centers, each conducting two to three integrated clinical trials, as well as one resource coordinating center, totaling $19.7 million. All projects will be co-led by collaborative teams of experienced and early-stage investigators from diverse backgrounds, in partnership with people with lived experience and public/private partners (i.e., payors, caretakers, healthcare providers from multiple disciplines, policymakers, advocacy groups, or professional organizations).

Research Examples

The IMPOWR Network will establish integrated patient-centered treatment interventions and models of care delivery that reaches underserved communities such as African Americans, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, and rural populations. In total, the IMPOWR network will test nine unique interventions in primary care, opioid treatment programs, and hospital settings:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of buprenorphine microdosing and flexible dosing to treat co-occurring chronic pain and OUD
  • Determining the effectiveness of collaborative care, care management, and stepped care approaches for sustaining treatment for chronic pain and OUD
  • Combining pain-targeted psychotherapy or exercise with medications for OUD
  • Developing a composite screening tool for chronic pain and OUD

  • University of New Mexico – New Mexico
  • Yale University  – Connecticut
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine – New York
  • University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania
  • Wake Forest University Health Sciences – North Carolina

Funded Projects

Tailored Retention and Engagement for Equitable Treatment of OUD and Pain (TREETOP)
Sep 20, 2021
HEAL Initiative: Integrative Management of Chronic Pain and OUD for Whole Recovery (IMPOWR): Research Centers
Sep 20, 2021
Wake Forest IMPOWR Dissemination Education and Coordination Center (IDEA-CC)
Sep 20, 2021
Integrated Care for Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Disorder: The IMPOWR Research Center at Montefiore/Einstein (IMPOWR-ME)
Sep 20, 2021
Integrative Treatment for Achieving Holistic Recovery from Comorbid Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Disorder
Sep 20, 2021