The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has approved about $10 million to fund two studies seeking to compare the effectiveness of strategies to reduce unsafe opioid prescribing practices by employing better pain management approaches.

The studies are the latest that PCORI has funded on pain management, and opioid overuse and misuse. The organization has designated $150 million to support 50 comparative clinical effectiveness research projects.

"We clearly need more evidence-based information about how to better treat pain as a central component to the efforts to address our nation’s opioid crisis,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD. “The studies PCORI is funding in this area are addressing questions about the comparative effectiveness of strategies to reduce unsafe prescribing, manage long-term opioid therapy, and prevent and treat opioid use disorders.”

Also See: How medication data and analytics can help the ER cut opioid abuse

In one of the most recently funded projects, a University of Pittsburgh study will get $4.1 million aim to assess whether different interventions can influence providers to use more evidence-based care for patients with acute non-cancer pain. Researchers will examine a variety of strategies, such as using prescription guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; prompts in electronic health records that require prescription justification; data-based comparisons with other providers’ prescription rates; and a combination of these interventions.

The University of Pittsburgh study will aim to determine which of those approaches is most effective in reducing opioid prescription rates, and improving patient and provider satisfaction.

The second PCORI-funded study will be backed by a $5.7 million grant to focus on a Medicaid payer strategy that expands access to non-drug approaches for treating low back pain. The study, based at the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, will look at the effectiveness of non-traditional and other alternative treatments for managing pain.

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