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The Program on Integrative Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation recently receiving funding as part of a $7.3 million, multi-site clinical trial awarded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center on Complementary and Integrative Health, entitled “Optimizing Pain Treatment in Medical Settings Using Mindfulness (OPTIMUM).”

The study involves a pragmatic trial of group-based mindfulness training for patients with chronic low back pain in the primary care setting, compared with usual care, and is part of the massive, $945 million trans-agency NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long term) initiative. Following completion of a successful planning and piloting phase earlier this year, the investigators are now launching a four-year implementation phase involving a total of 450 patients randomized to either 8 weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction as part of a group medical visit, or to usual primary care alone.

The project was modified to be implemented on a virtual internet platform, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding was awarded to Boston University as the lead institution (Natalia Morone, MD, PI), with other institutions including the University of Pittsburg, University of Massachusetts, and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Susan Gaylord, PhD, associate professor in INC PM&R and Director of the Program on Integrative Medicine (PIM), is the UNC site principal investigator; Kim Faurot, PhD, assistant professor in UNC PM&R and assistant director of PIM, is the UNC site co-PI. Gaby Castro, MD, assistant professor in the UNC Department of Family Medicine, is a co-I on the UNC team and Piedmont Health Services is a local clinical site for the study.