On June 1, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the Federal Pain Research Strategy (FPRS), a long-term strategic plan for the federal agencies that support pain research. It is essentially a companion plan to the National Pain Strategy (NPS), which identifies what steps must be taken to improve pain awareness, professional education, and delivery of care.

“U.S. Pain Foundation is pleased with the thoughtful work that was invested by many researchers in creating this excellent plan,” says Cindy Steinberg, national director of policy and advocacy for U.S. Pain. “There is no specific funding earmarked to implement this essential plan, so we encourage our members to support our efforts to advocate for increased funding for pain research at the NIH and within other federal agencies.”

The goal of the FPRS is to identify research priorities that will advance understanding of pain and lead to the development of new and more effective treatments.  Working for over a year, a diverse group of scientific experts and federal representatives created this plan under the auspices of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) in a process similar to the one used to develop the NPS.

Research recommendations were made in the areas of prevention, acute pain, the transition from acute to chronic pain, chronic pain, and disparities in care between certain populations.  In addition, recommendations were made in the cross-cutting areas of novel drugs and nonpharmacological treatments, screening tools and outcome measures, national registries and data sets, effective models of care delivery, and precision medicine.  Once all the specific topics in each area were identified, the experts were asked to rank research topics according to which topics address a significant need and have the potential to improve patient outcomes at the individual and population level.

Some examples of priority recommendations include:

  • Development of Safer Opioids, New, Non-pioid Analgesics and the First Generation of Disease Modifying Agents (medications that slow the progression of disease)
  • Determine the Mechanisms that Sustain or Resolve Chronic Pain
  • Determine the Long-term Effectiveness of Available Pharmacologic and Non-Pharmacologic Treatments for Chronic Pain
  • Study the Susceptibility and Resilience Factors Underlying the Transition from Acute to Chronic Pain

You can read explanations of these research priorities and the entire FPRS here.