Our expert answers 3 Questions
My work has focused on the problem of overdoses due to opioid pain medications. This is a relatively new area of inquiry because it has developed in response to a recent dramatic increase in the number of overdose deaths due to prescription opioid use in the United States, which occurred concurrently with increased awareness of the importance of managing pain and with changes in pain treatment practices that expanded the use of opioids. There are many opportunities to create new knowledge in regards to this problem, so I frequently ask myself: What are the avenues that have the greatest potential to improve health and well being of individuals with chronic pain?
I have had the great opportunity and pleasure of conducting part of my research activities within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system, which has allowed me to develop partnerships with policymakers and clinicians who can have direct impact on patient outcomes. Getting input, feedback and ideas from these stakeholders has had a critical role in directing my efforts toward issues of clinical significance. These connections also serve as an ideal way to disseminate findings to policymakers and clinicians. To me, this highlights the need to identify similar collaborations between researchers and stakeholders outside of a highly centralized system like the VHA, in order to maximize the impact of research and to create evidence-based policy and practice that can be amplified.
My graduate training was in public health and epidemiology, which fostered my interest in work that impacts the overall health of entire populations. I am excited by opportunities to use the tools of clinical epidemiology to answer questions that are critical to the everyday decisions made by treatment providers, as well as ways to broaden my understanding of low-cost interventions that can reach wider populations of patients.