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Research on later life pain and mood presented at meeting

Tags: aging,   conference,   Elaine Wethington,   pain,   TRIPLL,  

Researchers from across Cornell and investigators affiliated with the BCTR’s Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL) shared new research findings earlier this month at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual scientific meeting in Boston.

TRIPLL is one of the most active and long-standing collaborations among the Cornell campuses. It comprising researchers and graduate students from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech. The investigators presented research on barriers to older adults receiving mental health care at the end of life, why older adults seek information and make the decisions they do and an intergenerational program that teaches youth to interview older adults to learn life lessons.

portrait of Elaine Wethington

Elaine Wethington

“The Gerontological Society of America meeting is the leading international venue for presenting new findings on aging and health to our scientific peers” said Professor Elaine Wethington, one of the co-directors of TRIPLL and director the pilot study program. “It is an opportunity to showcase the work of our pilot investigators and to network with the world’s leading gerontologists. “

Much of the research presented by TRIPPL focused on the relationship between pain, mood and psychological distress and methods for managing chronic pain besides medications.

A TRIPLL-sponsored symposium looked specifically at developing and testing innovative pain interventions that do not involve taking medications. Researchers documented the psychological elements of pain and how cognitive-behavioral interventions can change patients’ perception of pain. They also found that coping skills training, step monitoring and goal-setting to encourage exercise were the intervention activities most likely to lead to pain relief among older adults.

One study, led by human development graduate student Abby Yip and associate professor Corinna Loeckenhoff, demonstrated how positive and negative emotions are associated with pain on a daily basis. TRIPPL researchers sent daily surveys to older adults with chronic pain to measure their mood and pain experiences. They found that patients who experienced positive feelings experienced less pain. They also found that experiencing negative emotions in the context of pain was associated with maladaptive coping strategies, such as avoiding physical activity, which may worsen pain in the long run.

TRIPPL pilot investigator Dr. Una Makris also reported on an intervention designed to improve outcomes of disability and depression in older veterans with chronic low-back pain and depression. The intervention will involve telephone calls from a health coach to encourage physical activity.

TRIPLL was founded in 2009 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging. It is one of 12 federally-funded Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translation of the Behavioral and Social Sciences of Aging across the nation; each one focuses on a different aspect related to the health and well-being of older Americans.

The institute brings together faculty from a variety of disciplines, including the social and behavioral sciences, gerontology, clinical medicine, epidemiology, and computer science to focus on non-pharmacologic methods of pain relief.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    conference    Elaine Wethington    pain    TRIPLL   

Joining forces to ease chronic pain

triplllogo-smallerBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Pain relievers are some of the most commonly-used medicines among older adults. But a Cornell-based organization called the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life, or TRIPLL, is exploring alternative ways to alleviate pain in older adults.

TRIPLL is one of the most active and long-standing collaborations among the Cornell campuses — comprising researchers and graduate students at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Researcher (BCTR), Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cornell Tech, plus dozens of community organizations serving seniors in New York City.

“It’s a very broad and deep collaboration,” said Karl Pillemer, TRIPLL co-director and director of the BCTR. “Because of our use of video conferencing, Skype and frequent meetings, it’s honestly not much different than if we were all in the same building. A number of us work with our TRIPLL colleagues even more than with people on our own campuses.”

TRIPLL was founded in 2009 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging. It is one of 12 federally-funded Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translational Research on Aging across the nation; each one focuses on a different aspect related to the health and well-being of older Americans.

TRIPLL brings together faculty from a variety of disciplines, including clinical medicine, epidemiology, gerontology, the social and behavioral sciences, computer science to focus non-pharmacologic methods of pain relief.

“Pain is a huge problem — it’s one of the things that keeps people homebound,” says Riverdale Senior Services director Julia Schwartz-Leeper, who regularly uses the institute’s webinars to train her staff. “The work that TRIPLL does is critically important.”

Karl Pillemer and Elaine Wethington

Karl Pillemer and Elaine Wethington

As the American population ages, the issue of treating pain in older adults is only getting more pressing. TRIPLL co-director Dr. Elaine Wethington, a medical sociologist and an associate director at the BCTR, notes that one-third of older adults has chronic pain — “and the majority of those find inadequate relief.”

Effective, evidence-based alternatives to pharmaceuticals are needed because many older adults have pre-existing conditions, such as heart failure or kidney problems, that pain medicines can exacerbate. The epidemic of opioid abuse also complicates matters. Fear of addiction may discourage older people from taking pain drugs. And reducing the number of opioid prescriptions keeps the drugs out of a medicine cabinet where they could be misused by family members or others, Pillemer said.

“Our inability to deal with chronic pain through non-drug methods is a huge problem,” he said. “In terms of an issue that makes the largest number of people miserable, chronic pain is at the top. But it’s not a high-profile problem that has an easy cure, so it doesn’t attract as much research funding.”

In an effort to combat the problem, TRIPLL’s researchers award grants for pilot studies; hold monthly seminars linking researchers on the various campuses; mentor graduate students, post-docs, fellows and junior faculty; and serve as a resource to New York City community service agencies, whose tens of thousands of clients provide a deep bench of volunteers for research studies.

“For years there’s been a consensus among researchers that pain is not just a biological phenomenon, it’s also a social and a psychological one, but there are few centers in the United States that look at pain from this biopsychosocial perspective,” Wethington said. “Our commitment is to understand these aspects as completely as we can — to get really smart people working on them, to publish papers in places where they’ll have an effect on practice.”

This story is adapted from an article that was first published in Weill Cornell Medicine, Vol. 16, No. 1.


(1) Comment.  |   Tags: aging    Elaine Wethington    gerontology    Karl Pillemer    pain    TRIPLL   

TRIPLL’s National Institute on Aging funding renewed

Tags: aging,   Karl Pillemer,   media mention,   pain,   TRIPLL,  

The BCTR's Translational Research Institute for Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL) has received a five-year, $1.95 million renewal grant from the National Institute on Aging. In this next phase, TRIPLL adds a focus on behavior change science, applying insights from psychology, sociology, economics, and communications to develop optimal pain management techniques. TRIPLL investigators also plan to explore how new communication tools, including social media and smartphones, can be harnessed to manage pain.

TRIPLL co-director Karl Pillemer notes,

In spite of how widespread chronic pain is among older adults, there are relatively few tested interventions to help people reduce their pain. Our new focus is exciting because we hope to translate findings into more effective interventions by deepening our understanding of human behavior and decision-making.

TRIPLL, based in New York City, is one of 12 national Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translational Research on Aging. TRIPLL unites social and psychological scientists at Cornell’s Ithaca campus, Weill Cornell Medical College researchers, and community-based health care partners.

Funding renewed for aging and pain research center - Cornell Chronicle

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TRIPLL announces webinar series on pain management

Tags: pain,   TRIPLL,   webinar,  

news-tripll-logo-inpostThe BCTR's Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL) is offering a series of webinars on pain management, pain care, and pain disparities. The webinars are free, but registration is required for each. Please contact Marcus Warmington at Weill Cornell Medical College for more information and to register. Further information can also be found on the TRIPLL web site.

TRIPLL is an academic-community collaboration among investigators at Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell-Ithaca, Columbia University Mailman School of Public, the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), and the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. TRIPLL is also allied with the Weill Clinical and Translational Science Center (an NIH-funded CTSA) and the Weill Center for Research Excellence in Health Disparities.

The full schedule of talks:

February 24 | 3:00-4:00PM
Quality Pain Care for Older Adults: Progress & Future Directions
Keela Herr, PhD, RN; Co-Director, John A. Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence, University of Iowa College of Nursing
Assuring quality pain care to older adults regardless of setting is a goal for most clinicians and researchers. This TRIPLL webinar will describe the current state of pain care for older adults, including prevalence of untreated pain and key challenges to quality pain care in older adults. Progress toward improving pain practices in older adults will be highlighted discussing current efforts and future research and clinical directions.

March 24 | 3:00-4:00PM
Management of Osteoarthritis in Older Adults: The Rheumatologist's Perspective
Una Makris, MD; Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of musculoskeletal related pain; it is highly prevalent in older adults, leads to significant morbidity and related costs. The objectives for this webinar presentation are to 1) briefly review the epidemiology of osteoarthritis, 2) review non- pharmacological and pharmacological management of osteoarthritis, and 3) review surgical referral when appropriate. This presentation will focus on hand, knee, hip, and generalized osteoarthritis.

April 28 | 3:00-4:00PM
The Problem & Consequences of Multisite Pain in Older Adults
Suzanne Leveille, PhD; PhD Program Director and Professor, Department of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Department of Nursing
This webinar will review the current evidence about the problem of multisite musculoskeletal pain in older persons. Consequences of chronic pain include loss of mobility, reduce ability to perform daily activities, and risk for falls. By the end of the seminar, participants will understand the scope of the problem of pain, how elders are managing their pain in general, and functional difficulties elders experience as a result of living with chronic pain.

May 19 | 3:00-4:00PM
Identifying the Continuum of Contextual Factors Contributing to Pain Disparities
Tamara Baker, PhD; Associate Professor, School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida College of Behavioral & Community Sciences
Disparities in the management of pain is often described at the peripheral level, thus only highlighting descriptives that differences occur. There are, however a myriad of social and cultural issues that not only describe these differences, but more importantly, define why such disparities occur and continue to exist. This webinar will define how cultural, social, and societal issues contribute to inequities in pain management among diverse populations (beyond just race). Understanding pain disparities from a life course (historical) perspective will be addressed, while highlighting current initiatives designed to ensure equal treatment for all.

June 23 | 2:00-3:00PM
Treating Chronic Refractory Pain in Older Adults: What are the issues?
Cary Reid, MD, PhD; Director of TRIPLL, Irving Sherwood Wright Associate Professor and Director of the Office of Geriatric Research in the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College

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Talks at Twelve: James Anglin, Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tags: BCTR Talks at Twelve,   children,   pain,  

Dealing with Pain and Complexity in the Struggle to Serve the Child’s Best Interests
James Anglin, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, B.C.

Thursday, October 4, 2012
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

Lunch will be served. This talk is open to all.

Dr. Anglin coined the term “pain-based behavior” in order to counteract misunderstandings and misguided reactions to children in residential care. Responding effectively to children’s psycho-emotional pain, as well as to the triggering of their own secondary pain, is a central challenge for careworkers. Recent research by Dr. Anglin on the implementation of the Cornell CARE Program Model has highlighted the importance of adult development at all staff levels in child welfare agencies – front line, supervisory, and management.

Findings suggest that in order to be truly responsive to the needs and interests of the young people in care, agencies need to recognize the complexity of carework and actively support shifts in staff mindsets. The recent work of Robert Kegan on adult mindset development appears to offer useful insights into this process.

Following his presentation, Dr. Anglin will invite an active dialogue on these issues, and implications for education, training, organizational development, and further research.

Jim Anglin began his career as a child and youth care worker in a mental health center in Vancouver after which he developed a 6-bed group home for adolescents in Victoria. He then pursued graduate studies, worked in social policy in Ottawa and with the Children’s Services Division, Government of Ontario, in Toronto. Returning to B.C. in 1979, he joined the faculty of the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria where he is a full Professor and former Director.

His recent research interests have focused on a re-appreciation of residential care for children and youth (see “Pain, Normality and the Struggle for Congruence: Reinterpreting Residential Care for Children and Youth” (Haworth, 2002). Currently, he is involved in researching the implementation of the CARE Program Model with colleagues from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

He has published in North American and international journals and child welfare texts on a variety of child and youth care issues. He is on the editorial boards of Child and Youth Services, International Journal of Child and Family Welfare, and Reclaiming Youth at Risk.

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Talks at Twelve: Catherine Riffin, Thursday, April 19, 2012


Chronic Pain and Caregiving: A Review and Preliminary Analysis
Catherine Riffin, graduate student, Human Development, Cornell Univ.

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

Chronic pain is a debilitating and pervasive health concern that affects not only the individual sufferer, but also the family system at large. With the rapidly growing older population, adult children are becoming increasingly involved in the care of their aging parents. Surprisingly, research has not examined the impact of older parents’ chronic pain symptoms on their adult children. This talk will address the following questions: 1) Does chronic pain in older parents affect the parent – adult child relationship; 2) What factors may moderate the association between chronic pain and relationship quality; and 3) Does the personality of the chronic pain sufferer play a role in shaping caregiver health? Analyses of data from two separate large-scale studies will be presented, and suggestions for a research agenda on this topic will be discussed.

Catherine Riffin is currently a second year doctoral student in Human Development, in the College of Human Ecology. She received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College in 2008, and subsequently pursued pediatric anxiety research at Brown Medical School. Since beginning her graduate studies at Cornell, she has begun to explore the relational and psychological components of aging. Her primary line of research now concerns the impact of chronic pain on family relationships in later life.

Lunch will be served. This talk is open to all.  Metered parking is available across Plantations Rd. in The Plantations lot.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: BCTR Talks at Twelve    caregiving    Catherine Riffin    pain   

TRIPLL Leads New York City Community Forum on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Pain and Pain Management

Tags: pain,   race,   TRIPLL,   Weill Cornell,  

TRIPLL New York City Community ForumOn October 12, 2011 the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL: Cornell’s Edward R. Roybal Center) led a community and researcher forum on developing innovative strategies to address racial and ethnic disparities in pain and pain management in later life. Carmen Green, MD, Professor of Health Management and Policy at University of Michigan Ann Arbor delivered the keynote at the event, “Pain and the Science of Inclusion.” Two panels led by community agency and research experts discussed the role of community-researcher partnerships in addressing health disparities. The event was attended by over 100 researchers, community practitioners, industry representatives, and funders. Next steps will include a dialogue between researchers and community practitioners to generate a collaborative research agenda that engages community practitioners and researchers as equal partners. TRIPLL is a unique collaboration of medical, social, behavioral, and health science researchers who collaborate with diverse agencies in New York City to translate research findings into practical solutions for older adults who suffer from persistent pain. The event was co-sponsored by the Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTSC) and the Weill Comprehensive Center of Excellence in Disparities Research and Community Engagement (CEDREC).

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: pain    race    TRIPLL    Weill Cornell