MaineHealth and the University of New England plan to create a statewide chronic pain registry to advance pain management research and improve care and treatment.

About 30% of Mainers suffer from chronic pain, according to a joint announcement by UNE and MaineHealth Wednesday. But there are currently no statewide pain registries in northern New England.

“By working together to identify the prevalence of chronic pain throughout the state, investigators from UNE and MaineHealth aim to foster greater research and treatment options for patients suffering from this debilitating condition,” they wrote.

MaineHealth and UNE plan to track 500 participants in the first year and to grow the registry in future years. The work is being supported financially by the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network, although the amount of the grant and cost of the project were not disclosed.

“We envision using this registry to not only advance our understanding of chronic pain but also inform policy around public health issues while finding collaborative ways to problem solve and meet Mainers’ health care needs,” said Dr. Ling Cao, a professor in the department of biomedical sciences at UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The creation of a robust database will serve as a tool for epidemiological studies and clinical research, and will build on UNE research to identify the cause of chronic pain on a molecular level and develop non-addictive pain treatments, they said.

“Most patients with chronic pain suffer in silence with limited resources to help them manage their pain,” said Dr. John Pier, vice president for physician and advanced practice provider services for the MaineHealth. “This study will shine a light on this population and allow us to understand how they are managing their condition and seeking medical intervention, and how the pain impacts their lives. Understanding these patients will help identify better ways to treat and, hopefully, positively impact health care access.”

Those with chronic pain can join the registry by filling out an anonymous survey.

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