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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Researchers Use Patient Perspectives to Develop Chronic Pain Intervention

“Chronic pain is a common and disabling comorbidity in individuals living with HIV. Behavioral interventions are among the most effective and safe nonpharmacologic treatments for chronic pain. However, the success of a behavioral intervention is influenced by how well it is tailored to the target population’s biological, psychological, and social context. Given well-documented psychosocial vulnerabilities among persons with HIV, it is critical to develop a behavioral intervention for chronic pain tailored to this population,” observes lead author Dr. Jessica S. Merlin, assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a recent study conducted in collaboration with Dr. Susan Davies, associate professor in UAB’s department of health behavior, and Dr. Janet M. Turan, professor in UAB’s department of health care organization and policy.


[Photos: Dr. Susan Davies (left), Dr. Jessica Merlin (right)]

To ascertain preferences for the intervention’s structure and delivery, the researchers conducted 12 interviews and 3 focus groups among 24 patients living with HIV. Analyzing the qualitative data, they discovered that four main themes emerged: 1) the value of group sessions; 2) the integration of peer leadership into the intervention; 3) a preference for groups where everyone is HIV+; and 4) a preference against intervention content being delivered by phone.

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[Dr. Janet M. Turan]

The team will use data gleaned from the study to design a behavioral chronic pain intervention that reflects patients’ preferences. Additionally, they hope that the same approach can be applied in other disciplines for those receiving treatment.

UAB co-investigators in the division of infectious diseases are Ms. Sarah R. Young; Dr. Michael S. Saag; Dr. William Demonte; Ms. Riddhi Modi; Ms. Sally L. Shurbaji; and Dr. William A. Anderson; along with Dr. Stefan Kertesz, in the division of preventive medicine.

“Using Patient Perspectives to Inform the Development of a Behavioral Intervention for Chronic Pain in Patients with HIV: A Qualitative Study” was published online in July 2016 in the journal Pain MedicineJournal article: