November 20, 2018: Upcoming NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements for Pragmatic Trials Address the Opioid Crisis

The NIH has announced an intent to publish new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for 5 or more embedded pragmatic clinical trials that address pain management and the opioid crisis. These projects will become part of the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory as phased UG3/UH3 cooperative research. Both FOAs will be published in early December with applications due as early as February 2019.

The two notices are:

The announcements are part of the NIH Heal (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, which was created in April 2018 in an effort to speed scientific solutions for addressing the national opioid public health crisis.

LIRE Pragmatic Clinical Trial Begins Randomization



One of the NIH Collaboratory’s initial Demonstration Projects, the Lumbar Image Reporting with Epidemiology (LIRE) study, has begun randomization in early April. The LIRE trial is designed to test whether inserting additional epidemiological information into the lumbar spine imaging reports of patients being treated for lower back pain can help both doctors and patients to better understand and interpret the reports. This in turn could help doctors avoid subjecting patients to unnecessary tests and procedures.

LIRE is a cluster randomized trial, which means that instead of randomizing individual patients, whole clinics (one at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit; one at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, with more to follow) are randomly assigned to provide either the experimental treatment or the control treatment to patients.

Cluster-randomized trials offer a number of advantages, including the avoidance of certain kinds of bias that can effect the outcome of a study, but they also raise special issues that can require careful consideration.

The principal investigator of the LIRE trial is Dr. Jeffrey Jarvik  of the University of Washington. You can read more about the LIRE trial here.