Audrey Kusiak, PhD & Bob O’Brien, PhD: September 7, 2017

Improving Pain Management Strategies for Veterans

VA Medical Centers Provides a System-Wide Standard of Care to Reduce Suffering

Audrey Kusiak, PhD

Scientific Program Manager, VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Service

Bob O’Brien, PhD

Scientific Program Manager, VA Health Services Research & Development Service

According to a report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 25.3 million American adults (11.3 percent of the total population) had pain every day for the preceding three months. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain.  Pain is one of the most common reasons Americans consult a physician, and joint and back pain and other musculoskeletal ailments are the most common diagnoses among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans.

The consequences of chronic pain include lost work productivity, disability, and increased health care costs. Unrelieved and persistent chronic pain contributes to depression, anxiety, poor sleep patterns, decreased quality of life and often times, substance use disorder. It is also a risk factor for suicide.

VA’s National Pain Management Strategy provides a system-wide standard of care to reduce suffering from preventable pain. As part of that strategy, the department’s pain research portfolio covers a wide range of topics, from drug discovery to complementary and integrative treatments, to the impact of pain on daily function and quality of life. The strategy helps set the direction of VA pain research, which in turn helps inform and refine the strategy.

Dr. Audrey Kusiak and Dr. Bob O’Brien of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development are available for you and your listeners on Thursday, September 7th, to discuss chronic pain and how the VA puts in place a standard system of care for our veterans.

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More About Dr. Audrey Kusiak:

Dr. Kusiak joined ORD’s Rehabilitation Research and Development Service (RR&D) in 2007 and manages RR&D’s Spinal Cord Injury/Disorders and Pain, and Regenerative Medicine portfolios.  She represents ORD on the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee and on VHA’s National Pain Management Coordinating Committee.  Dr. Kusiak received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the College of Medicine at the University of Florida, and completed her post-doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Neuromorphology in Martinsried, Germany.

More About Dr. Bob O’Brien:

Dr. O’Brien is a Developmental Psychologist working with the VA’s Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D).  He has been with the VA for seven years and is responsible for overseeing projects in HSR&D’s Mental and Behavioral Health portfolio of projects, including studies on PTSD, depression, substance use (including treating opioid addiction), Veteran homelessness, and suicide prevention.  He previously studied child and family health research at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He was also a federal contractor, working on more than a dozen health-focused national research studies and technical assistance projects for various agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal departments.

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