Q: Community Health Center Inc. has received a $453,000 grant to support a new pain management study. What is the significance of this study?
A: Pain is one of the most common symptoms that lead patients to seek medical care. Our own data at Community Health Center Inc. show that up to 40 percent of our patients complain of pain. This is common in primary care settings. Both the VA and Community Health Center care for large numbers of patients with pain. But evidence suggests that primary care providers have not been well trained or equipped to manage pain, particularly chronic, long-term pain. The VA has become a center of excellence in pain research and care of patients with pain. They have developed care models that emphasize a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to help patients with pain and provide tools and training to help primary care providers manage pain more effectively. Our study will examine how well this model can be adapted and adopted outside the VA in a community health center setting. The significance of this work is that two large, organized health systems are collaborating for the first time to share best practices and tackle a common, challenging issue in a structured, evidence-based manner.