The Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Life After Service Studies (LASS)* program of research was designed to enhance understanding of the transition from military to civilian life and ultimately improve the health of Veterans in Canada.
The LASS 2016 found that 40.8% of Veterans suffered from chronic pain and that the incidence of chronic pain had risen since 2013. The results showed that Veterans in the sample group were twice as likely to have chronic pain compared to the equivalent Canadian population.read report*
The CPCoE’s Board of Directors oversees the operations and financials of the CPCoE as a not-for-profit. The Board of Directors includes Veterans, industry leaders, and chronic pain experts from McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences and Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation.
The CPCoE was established to conduct research and help improve the well-being of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans, and their families, suffering from chronic pain. At the core of all CPCoE activities is the principle of Veteran engagement. Consultation and engagement with Veterans, including an Advisory Council for Veterans to advise on research priorities—has been a priority since the organization’s inception. This ongoing engagement helps the CPCoE to develop a deeper understanding of the day-to-day challenges Veterans, and their families, face because of their experiences with chronic pain. These lived experiences are used to shape research that will have a genuine impact on the well-being of Veterans and their families.
Since its launch, the CPCoE has collaborated directly with Veterans living with chronic pain, and their families, to establish its research priorities. Under the direction of Dr. Jason Busse, a qualitative review was conducted to determine what research was important to Canadian Veterans. One-on-one interviews were conducted with Veterans across five provinces who reported pain that began during their service. Results showed the following research priorities:
A cross-sectional review is underway to define the ranking of these established priorities. In conjunction, the CPCoE met with its ACV in September 2020 to discuss their goals for research. Based on their responses, the CPCoE built its 2020-2021 research plan.
i) Rapid Recommendations
The MAGIC project has partnered with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) to create BMJ Rapid Recommendations (Rapid Recs) for areas in which there is a high potential of informing optimal clinical practice. The process begins by identifying an urgent clinical issue or new potentially practice-changing evidence, conducting systematic reviews of benefits, harms, and patients’ values and preferences, and using the findings to inform a focused clinical practice recommendation. To date, a Rapid Rec has been completed on medical cannabis and cannabinoids for chronic pain. Additionally, the CPCoE has embarked on a Rapid Rec for management of chronic pain from temporomandibular disorders (TMDs).
ii) Review of the Seven Domains of Well-being
VAC has established Seven Domains of Well-being that are important to facilitate understanding of Veterans’ well-being:
To identify the optimal ways to measure each of these constructs, the CPCoE has committed to conducting further research on these Domains. In September 2020, the ACV participated in an exercise to rank the Domains in terms of order of importance for research. The Domain of Health was ranked number one. As such, an overview of reviews exploring measurement of well-being has been completed, and a systematic review of tools to measure the Domain of Health among community populations is underway.
iii) Review of Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Data
ICES data is a specific area of administrative health data research that tracks all healthcare utilization in the province of Ontario. Because Veterans access civilian healthcare services post-discharge from the CAF, ICES data includes a Veteran identifier. The CPCoE has engaged with ICES to use their data to inform patterns of care among Ontario Veterans living with chronic pain.
This project aims to study the impacts of offering virtual pain services to Canadian Veterans.
With the onset of COVID-19, many pain clinics have had to quickly shift their in-person programs to online delivery formats. Given the far-reaching implications of virtual care services, the CPCoE’s network of interdisciplinary pain clinics across Canada are being surveyed to understand the processes for setting up virtual appointments, ease of access, challenges/barriers, e-platforms used, resource implications, patient satisfaction, and clinical impact. Findings will be used to support the implementation of virtual pain care services for Veterans across Canada.
This project aims to evaluate community-based pain clinic infrastructure that influences the care experience for Veterans living with chronic pain.
CPCoE recognizes the important role that community-based pain clinics play in the lives of Veterans. CHANGEpain Clinic Inc., a community-based pain clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia, is undertaking this research to evaluate community-based clinic infrastructure, resources, and processes, and the impact they have on overall patient satisfaction. Findings will be used to optimize the care experience for Veterans at community-based pain clinics across Canada.
This project aims to design a self-managed education platform for Veterans living with chronic pain.
Self-education is an important component of chronic pain management. Committed to building an education platform that is truly impactful, the CPCoE is giving Veterans an active voice in designing a platform that will deliver value to them and their families. Context labs have been held with Veterans and their families to gain insights into the Veteran support system. Content has been co-created through interviews with Veterans, their families, clinicians, and subject matter experts. Once complete, this education platform will help Veterans to understand, track, and manage their chronic pain.
This project aims to study the intergenerational transmission of chronic pain in children of Canadian Veterans.
Chronic pain and associated mental health issues are prevalent in the Veteran population, which places Veterans’ children at heightened risk for the development of pain problems that could potentially persist into adulthood. To date, only one empirical study (conducted in the United States) has examined pain in offspring of Veterans. Given this scarcity, there is a critical need for empirical research to understand the mechanisms underlying the intergenerational risk for chronic pain. This project will characterize and establish the prevalence of pain in Canadian Veterans and their children and provide an in-depth understanding of their pain experience. Findings will be used to help inform future generations on how to manage chronic pain transmission among Veterans and their children.
This project aims to evaluate the impact of sex and gender on chronic pain management in Canadian Veterans.
Sex and gender influence the types of injuries that active-duty military personnel incur, their treatment needs, and responses. While some research on sex and gender differences in pain management is emerging for the general population, there has been little research specific to military personnel and Veterans. This research will examine to what extent current research on pain in Veterans considers sex and gender differences, understand the unique experiences of women Veterans, and analyze the differences in treatment responses between men and women Veterans. Findings will be used to support best practices for chronic pain management programs to be inclusive of the differences in needs and responses of men and women Veterans.
This project aims to develop a registry focused on Canadian Veterans who use cannabis for medical purposes.
As reported by VAC, from 2020 to 2021, a total of 15,369 Veterans were reimbursed for a total of 14,463,796 grams, or $119,264,105 worth, of cannabis. Given the prevalence of cannabis use among Canadian Veterans, it is imperative to study the usage of, and potential outcomes associated with, cannabis for Veterans living with chronic pain. This registry will feature Canadian Veterans using cannabis for medical purposes who are funded, or seeking funding, by VAC. It will identify the primary reason/indication for cannabis use; the types, forms, and quantities used; and the impact on pharmaceutical and/or non-pharmaceutical treatments already in place. Findings will be used to understand the potential outcomes associated with cannabis usage as it pertains to chronic pain and mental health comorbidities, which will help to inform Veterans and healthcare practitioners when considering cannabis as part of chronic pain management.
This project aims to characterize Veterans’ pain services nationally.
The CPCoE provides research, training, and education for interdisciplinary teams to improve the delivery of evidence-based pain care across the country. An important component of this research, training, and education is understanding the pain services provided to Veterans nationally. Through this study, the CPCoE’s network of interdisciplinary clinics are being surveyed to collect data about their organizational and clinical activities associated with treating Veterans. Findings will be used to understand the landscape of chronic pain management services and identify potential opportunities and/or barriers to improve those services across Canada.
Chronic Pain Centre of Excellence for Canadian Veterans
McMaster Innovation Park
Suite 413A – 175 Longwood Road South
Hamilton, ON L8P 0A1
T: 1-833-644-HOPE (4673)