Pain Research, Informatics, Multi-morbidities and Education (PRIME) Center

A VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Innovation (COIN)


To improve our understanding of the complex interactions between pain and associated chronic disease and behavioral health factors and to develop efficacious interventions that can reduce unnecessary pain and suffering and overall disease burden.

Focused Areas of Research

With a focus on pain and pain management research, the Center's strategic goals are to:

  • Enact a strategic research agenda that will advance scientific knowledge and have a significant impact on improving care for Veterans with pain and associated chronic conditions;
  • Foster innovative health services research outside the focused area of pain and pain management;
  • Establish a strong infrastructure that supports mentoring and career development, including partnered, system-oriented research; and
  • Promote interdisciplinary, cross-institutional collaborations and research networks in priority areas of interest.

Research Portfolio

The PRIME Center's current research portfolio and priorities for future research are guided by four strategic objectives:

  1. Promote organizational change that can increase health-related quality of life and reduce symptoms burden for Veterans with pain and associated chronic conditions.
  2. Promote access, continuity, and sustainability of safe and effective interventions for pain and pain-related disability.
  3. Increase respect for patient risks, preferences, and priorities.
  4. Reduce ethnic/racial, geographic, gender- and age-related disparities in access and delivery of effective pain care.

The centerpiece of the PRIME Center's current portfolio is the Collaborative Research to Enhance and Advance Transformation and Excellence (CREATE) titled, "Pain Management and Patient Aligned Care." Comprised of three specific projects, this CREATE will accelerate transformation of pain management in the VHA primary care setting by Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT), and will serve as a model for similar efforts related to other chronic conditions, as well as transformational efforts of other healthcare organizations. Specific impacts will include:

  • Enhancing Veterans' access to empirically validated and guideline concordant pain care;
  • Leveraging health information technology to promote better pain care for Veterans, and
  • Building sustainable improvements in pain care that are applicable beyond CREATE.

Affirmed by the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) recommendation that self-management should be the starting point for all pain care, PRIME will continue to focus on developing effective interventions for chronic pain that empower Veterans and promote effective pain control, optimal physical and emotional functioning, and quality of life. PRIME's current and planned projects utilize a variety of technologies, including interactive voice response (IVR), the Internet, smart phone applications, and video conferencing to address this challenge. PRIME also will provide leadership in the development of Veteran-reported outcome measures, especially measures of patient-reported functioning, and using technology to integrate these measures into the VA's electronic health record (EHR). The projects addressing this objective have the potential to redefine how VA measures and improves its clinical performance.

PRIME's research focuses on designing and enacting interventions that are tailored to each Veteran's experience and that employ a patient-centered approach to addressing risks, preferences, and priorities. PRIME investigators also will continue to identify system-, provider-, and patient-level barriers to resolving disparities among women Veterans, ethnic/racial minorities, and older Veterans, and to design, evaluate, and employ health services research and implementation of strategies to reduce disparities in access to and delivery of care.

Who is Eligible?

Veterans with painful medical conditions, including, but not limited to chronic low back pain, diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, and pain related to Multiple Sclerosis.

Contact Us

For more information about the Center and our research program, please contact Lisa Carney at 203-932-5711, extension 2335.


Robert D Kerns, PhD

PRIME Center Director

Professor of Psychiatry, of Neurology and of Psychology

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Alicia A Heapy, PhD

PRIME Center Associate Director

Associate Professor Term

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Amy Caroline Justice, MD, PhD

PRIME Center Associate Director

Professor of Medicine (General Medicine) and of Public Health (Health Policy)

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Joseph Lucien Goulet, PhD

PRIME Center Director of Methodologies and Biostatistics

Associate Professor Term

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine

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Steve Martino, PhD

PRIME Center Director of Education, Dissemination, and Implementation

Professor of Psychiatry

Chief of Psychology, VA CT Healthcare System

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Perry L Miller, PhD, MD

PRIME Center Associate Director of Medical Informatics

Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology

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Cynthia A Brandt, MD, MPH

PRIME Center Director of Medical Informatics

Professor of Emergency Medicine and of Anesthesiology

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