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MaineHealth and the University of New England plan to create a statewide registry of Mainers dealing with chronic pain, in hopes of advancing research and ultimately improving treatment.
Research shows about 30% of the state's residents are living with chronic pain, according to a joint announcement by UNE and MaineHealth. Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide and is a significant public health challenge.
But more data is needed about the people with chronic pain.
By working together to identify the prevalence of chronic pain throughout the state, UNE and MaineHealth aim to foster more significant research and treatment options for patients suffering from this debilitating condition.
“Most patients with chronic pain suffer in silence with limited resources to help them manage their pain,” said John Pier, vice president of physician and APP services for the MaineHealth Medical Group. “This study will shine a light on this population and allow us to understand how they are managing their condition and seeking medical intervention and how the pain impacts their lives.
"Understanding these patients will help identify better ways to treat and, hopefully, positively impact health care access.”
MaineHealth and UNE plan to track 500 participants in the first year. The work is being supported financially by the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network pilot programs.
The amount of the grant and the cost of the project were not disclosed.
“The goal of the pain registry is to learn about patients’ experiences with chronic pain and their care needs,” said Dr. Ling Cao, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“This registry will not only inform epidemiological research, but it will inform relevant stakeholders to help people get the care they need.”
The collaborative effort will create a robust database that will be a tool for epidemiological studies and clinical research. Researchers at UNE are already performing studies to identify the molecular basis of chronic pain and develop non-addictive pain treatments through gene therapy.
“We want this registry to continue in perpetuity and for it to grow,” said Cao. “We envision using this registry to not only advance our understanding of chronic pain but also inform policy around similar public health issues while finding collaborative ways to problem-solve and meet Mainers’ health care needs.”
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