for people ages 18-89 (full criteria)
study started
estimated completion
Edward Cachay, MD (ucsd)



Due to its prevalence and impact on quality of life and overall health, the National Academy of Medicine has called chronic pain a "public health crisis." Therefore, this proposal is relevant to public health because it seeks to improve chronic pain treatment in accordance with the approach recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services National Pain Strategy: to develop and test Pain Self-Management interventions tailored to the needs of vulnerable populations, particularly people living with HIV (PLWH). Chronic pain is an important and understudied comorbidity among PLWH; therefore, this proposal is responsive to the NIH's HIV Research Priorities, which identify comorbidities as a high priority research topic.


Behavioral interventions for chronic pain among people living with HIV (PLWH) are an understudied area, with great potential to improve pain and function. Chronic pain is an important comorbidity that affects between 30% and 85% of PLWH and is associated with greater odds of functional impairment, increased emergency room utilization, suboptimal retention in HIV care, and failure to achieve virologic suppression. What is not known is how to optimally address chronic pain in this population. Opioids are a commonly used treatment for chronic pain, particularly in PLWH. Opioid prescribing for chronic pain often does not result in substantial improvement in outcomes and contributes to the growing epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose. In contrast, behavioral interventions are among the most effective and safest treatments for chronic pain in the general population. Pain Self-Management (PSM) is a Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)-based behavioral approach that involves pain-related skill acquisition and goal setting. PSM interventions have been promoted by the 2016 Department of Health and Human Services National Pain Strategy (DHHS NPS) as an effective, scalable approach to chronic pain management. Especially given the current opioid crisis, the DHHS NPS underscored the urgent need to develop and test PSM interventions tailored to the unique needs of vulnerable populations, particularly PLWH, that can be implemented and disseminated nationwide. Until an effective and scalable PSM intervention for chronic pain in PLWH is developed, reducing the burden of chronic pain safely and effectively in this population will not be possible. The overall objective of this proposal is to evaluate a novel theory-based PSM intervention, "Skills TO Manage Pain" (STOMP), developed for and tailored to PLWH. The investigators will accomplish the overall objective with the following primary specific aim: 1) Evaluate the efficacy of STOMP, a theory-based intervention tailored to improving chronic pain in PLWH. Given the investigators' rigorous intervention development process and promising pilot trial results, the working hypothesis is that STOMP will decrease pain and improve function in PLWH. Investigators also propose the following secondary aims: 2) Conduct exploratory analyses of the impact of STOMP on HIV outcomes associated with chronic pain (i.e. retention in care, virologic suppression), and 3) Investigate proximal outcomes as potential mediators of STOMP's impact on chronic pain. This approach is innovative because it incorporates novel peer co-led group sessions that were created based on the investigators' formative intervention development work, includes patients with comorbidities (e.g., depressive symptoms, addiction history) common among PLWH but typically excluded from chronic pain studies, and investigates the impact of a chronic pain intervention on disease-specific HIV outcomes in addition to pain and function. The proposed research will be significant because if successful, it will pave the way for future dissemination and implementation studies that have the potential to dramatically change chronic pain treatment for PLWH.


Chronic Pain hiv opioid prescribing behavioral clinical trial Skills TO Manage Pain (STOMP) comparison group


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-89

  1. Enrolled in CNICS
  2. Age ≥ 18 years
  3. English-speaking
  4. Chronic pain (Brief Chronic Pain Screening Questionnaire (BCPQ) = at least moderate pain for at least 3 months)
  5. Moderately severe and impairing chronic pain (PEG pain questionnaire = average of all three items is 4 or greater)
  6. Ability and willingness to attend the group sessions at the date/time specified
  7. No plans for major surgery during the study period that would interfere with study procedures.

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Do not speak or understand English
  2. Are planning a new pain treatment like surgery
  3. Cannot attend the group sessions
  4. Had previously participated in the pilot study (STOMP)
  5. Unwilling to provide informed consent


  • University of California not yet accepting patients
    San Diego California 92103 United States
  • University of Alabama not yet accepting patients
    Birmingham Alabama 352940 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Edward Cachay, MD (ucsd)
    I joined the University of California, San Diego in the Owen Clinic in 2007, having completed a fellowship in Infectious Diseases and a Master in Advanced Studies. During this time I have dedicated my professional time as a clinical teacher whose scholarly portfolio emphasized the management of HIV and its associated co-morbidities.


not yet accepting patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of Pittsburgh
Study Type
Last Updated