Cross-Cutting Research

Many research projects that advance the goals of the HEAL initiative cut across both pain management and addiction. HEAL funds research and supports collaborative efforts in these areas, which are also priorities for NIH and HEAL partner agencies. Topics will continue to expand as HEAL grows.

Increasing Participant Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement in HEAL Research

The Research Need

Strategies to increase participant diversity, inclusion, and engagement in clinical studies are needed to ensure the NIH HEAL Initiative meets its goal of providing scientific solutions to individuals with pain and addiction. Several years into the initiative, it became apparent that study enrollment plans and stakeholder engagement strategies within some HEAL studies can be refined and improved upon to fully address the needs of individuals living with pain and addiction – as well as their family members, communities, and caregivers. Research supported by HEAL must reflect the full range of populations affected by pain and addiction and offer tools and outcomes meaningful to diverse groups.

About the Program

The NIH HEAL Initiative is providing funding to address challenges related to meaningful engagement of populations experiencing pain and opioid use disorder in HEAL clinical studies. These efforts are developed in the context of individual studies, settings, and patient populations to enhance engagement of patients, communities, and other stakeholders; and to improve recruitment, retention, and inclusion of participants from racial and ethnic minority populations.

Program Details

Through the NIH HEAL Initiative, NIH awarded new supplements to 14 clinical studies ongoing in the initiative, totaling $7.1 million. See funded awards.

Examples of Enhanced Engagement and Inclusion Efforts

  • Developing stakeholder advisory boards, conducting qualitative interviews, and holding patient focus groups
  • Producing culturally tailored recruitment materials for diverse groups
  • Connecting with communities affected by pain and addiction through patient navigators

Research Spotlights

Workshops


Enhancing Diversity in the HEAL Workforce

The Research Need

As a public health emergency, the nation’s opioid crisis demands an all-hands-on-deck strategy to use the power of research to help people and communities who are struggling. The complex problems we are trying to address thus call for all voices – a diverse workforce that can understand and take into account the specific needs of the diverse populations we serve.

About the Program

The NIH HEAL Initiative supports NIH Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (often called “diversity supplements”). Any HEAL researcher can apply to bring on a trainee (or early-stage faculty member) from an underrepresented minority group to further that trainee’s education and career development. The intent is to enhance diversity in the HEAL workforce from a range of characteristics, including not only race and ethnicity, but also gender, economic/class background, disability, and other features that characterize individuals underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences.

Program Details

Through the NIH HEAL Initiative, NIH awarded new supplements to 20 HEAL awards to enhance diversity of the HEAL workforce, totaling $2.6 million. See funded awards.

Director's Messages


Stigma in Pain Management and Opioid Use Disorder

The Research Need

Stigma against individuals with a substance use disorder, pain, or both is a common barrier to healing. Widespread lack of information and understanding about mental or substance use disorders can lead to public attitudes of shame and blame. While stigma is hard to eliminate, HEAL research is finding solutions to mitigate stigma in its many forms toward improving health and preventing unnecessary deaths from overdose.

About the Program

NIH HEAL Initiative research targets stigma that occurs at many levels affecting people with opioid use disorder or chronic pain and which can prevent people from seeking and receiving treatment. Stigma can be internalized (when an individual believes and accepts others’ judgements) or it can come from peers (others in recovery). Healthcare providers also harbor stigma against treating certain types of patients they deem different than others, and health systems can amplify all of these types of stigma by perpetuating stereotypes and their negative consequences.

Program Details

Through the NIH HEAL Initiative, NIH awarded new supplements to eight HEAL awards to address stigma, totaling $1.7 million. See funded awards.

Examples of Stigma Research

  • Developing stigma-reduction training using the Opioid Wizard clinical decision-support tool reduce provider stigma
  • Testing the value of mobile apps to measure and overcome stigma associated with opioid use disorder
  • Interviewing cancer survivors and their health providers to better understand sources of chronic pain stigma
  • Evaluating psychotherapy approaches to address stigma in people with both opioid use disorder and chronic pain

Research Spotlights

Director's Messages

Other

Engaging Participants in Research

View Funded Projects page

Enhancing Workforce Diversity

View Funded Projects page

Stigma in Pain Management and Opioid Use Disorder and Treatment

View Funded Projects page