Researchers receive NEA award to test whether a two-step music therapy improves chronic pain

Regenstrief Institute research scientist Matthew J. Bair, M.D., M.S., and the Indiana Institute of Medical Research (IIMR) at Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center have been awarded the Creative Forces®: National Endowment for the Arts Military Healing Arts Network Award for Clinical Study of Music Therapy and Chronic Pain in U.S. Veterans.

The research project titled "Stepped-Care Intervention of Music and Imagery to Assess Relief (SCIMITAR) Trial" will test whether a two-step music therapy intervention improves pain, psychological symptoms (anxiety, PTSD, depression and stress) and health-related quality of life in veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain. The study will also assess opioid use among participants and provide a cost-benefit analysis of step 1, music listening, and step 2, music imagery, interventions.

Dr. Bair is director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Center for Health Information and Communication (CHIC). He is also a professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at the IU School of Medicine.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in partnership with Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (HJF), Inc., announced that the clinical research award of $900,000 will be awarded to the IIMR, which is collaborating with the VA as part of the Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. Dr. Bair, a health services researcher and internist, and Kristin Maya Story, PhD, a music therapist and CHIC core investigator, are the co-principal investigators.

Creative Forces is an initiative of the NEA in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs that seeks to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. HJF will manage the award to support a randomized controlled trial of music therapy for U.S. veterans with chronic pain.

Through Creative Forces, the NEA is investing in research exploring the physical, social and emotional impact and benefits of creative arts therapies.


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