“Consultation with Veterans, directly in research outreach and through our Advisory Council for Veterans, is an organizational priority.”
In my final report as Chief Scientific Officer, I am pleased to be able to say that we have not only established a Veteran focused and engaged chronic pain research Centre of Excellence for Canada, but also that we are a recognized and significant contributor to Canadian chronic pain research. We prioritize Veteran engagement in all research activity. Consultation with Veterans, directly in research outreach and through our Advisory Council for Veterans, is an organizational priority. This ongoing engagement helps to develop a deeper and more thorough understanding of the day-to-day challenges that Veterans and their families face in their experience of chronic pain. That understanding is used to shape research to ensure that it will have an impact on the well-being of Veterans and their families.
This year, CPCoE has reached across the country to conduct research, advance collaboration, and further the pursuit of research addressing Veteran priorities identified during our first year and through ongoing engagement with the Advisory Council for Veterans. In addition to building research collaborations across Canada, including collaborations with the Canadian Armed Forces and the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families, we have furthered our collaborations abroad, including collaborations the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. CPCoE continued its novel research into the intergenerational transmission of chronic pain between Veteran parents and their children, the influences of sex and gender on Veterans’ chronic pain and using the Veterans’ cannabis registry to inform appropriate use of medical cannabis.
CPCoE has also begun foundational studies to support future research endeavours. These include characterizing the uniqueness of chronic pain in Veterans compared to civilians, establishing the most appropriate means of measuring each of the Seven Domains of Well-being identified by Veterans Affairs Canada, and scaling and spreading interdisciplinary pain management programs across Canada.
Additionally, CPCoE embarked on new projects in the areas of improving the civilian healthcare experience, health and wellness coaching models, pain self-education programs, and chronic spine pain interventions. A study was also launched into the emerging field of ketamine for pain management.
This year also marked the launch of CPCoE’s Capacity Building Initiatives (CBIs) to support trainees entering the field of Veterans’ chronic pain research. These CBIs support Canadian graduate students completing relevant research at the Master’s or Doctoral level. Five graduate students at five universities across Canada received CBI awards to support their research. Topics include traumatic brain injuries, cannabis use and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, exercise, identity, and psychological services for Veterans living with chronic pain. By investing in these students, CPCoE is helping to grow the next generation of researchers who will contribute to improving the well-being of Canadian Armed Forces Veterans, and their families, suffering from chronic pain.
One of CPCoE’s Capacity Building Initiatives is dedicated to a founding member of the Advisory Council for Veterans, François Dupéré, who passed away on January 20, 2021. François was an inspiration as a Veteran and as a human being. To preserve his legacy as an advocate for resiliency within the Veterans’ community, CPCoE established a specific Capacity Building Initiative in his honour to fund the research of a new Francophone Master’s student on a yearly basis.
I am pleased at our accomplishments in a short period of time and am confident that the future will be bright. CPCoE extends its sincerest gratitude to the members of the Advisory Council for Veterans and Scientific Advisory Board for their valuable insights to the selection and adjudication of research topics. CPCoE also thanks its network of interdisciplinary pain clinics and researchers for their ongoing dedication to serve Veterans, and their families, suffering from chronic pain.