The Issues

There is growing awareness that chronic pain and its management is a major concern for military service members and veterans living in the United States today, many of whom were among the 2.5 million active military deployed since 2001 in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among this population, chronic pain frequently coexists with other problems including mental health issues, substance abuse, and sleep disturbances. It is not uncommon for these issues to be treated with opiate/opioid drugs.

The Initiative

To improve capacity, tools, and skills available to medical providers for managing chronic pain in this population, and to reduce reliance and increasing dependence on opiate/opioid drugs, this new initiative has been launched as a joint activity of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The NIH-DoD-VA Pain Management Collaboratory (PMC) is an unprecedented cooperative activity involving seven NIH institutes, centers, and offices (ICs)—NCCIH, NINDS, NIDA, NIAAA, NICHD (NCMRR), ORWH, NINR—plus the Clinical and Rehabilitative Medicine Research Program (CRMRP) and the Military Operational Medicine Research Program (MOMRP) at DoD, and Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) program at the VA. This initiative builds on three ongoing activities: a long-term history of collaboration between the NIH, DoD, and VA, the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, and the work and most recent report of the NCCIH Advisory Council Working Group, entitled Strengthening Collaborations with the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Effectiveness Research on Mind and Body Interventions.