One in three individuals worldwide is living with ongoing pain of some type, and pain is relevant to everyone during their lifetime.
Beth creates and investigates interventions that equip people with the ability to shape the nervous system toward pain relief. That’s a concept that is powerful for patients. Her integrative approach works alongside medical treatments and has been shown to improve health outcomes.
Her evidence-based clinical innovations provide patients with an accessible way for people with chronic pain or surgical pain to have fewer symptoms and greater comfort. Her 1-session pain relief skills intervention, Empowered Relief, is delivered by 500 clinicians in 16 countries and in 7 languages. Healthcare organizations and payors have adopted Empowered Relief as standard of care (e.g., Cleveland Clinic and Humana).
Empowered Relief is a single-session (2-hour) intervention that rapidly equips patients with effective pain relief skills. The Empowered Relief line of science includes four randomized controlled trials conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine involving patients with chronic pain and patients undergoing different types of surgery. All four trials have yielded clinically meaningful results and durable efficacy at 3 month and 6-months post-treatment. Multidimensional benefits across a range of symptoms suggest that Empowered Relief is an all-purpose intervention for people with acute and chronic pain.
An NIH-funded randomized controlled trial revealed that in people with chronic low back pain 1-session Empowered Relief is clinically equivalent to 16 hours of cognitive behavioral therapy (gold-standard behavioral treatment for chronic pain) at 3 months post-treatment for reducing pain-related distress, pain intensity, pain interference, pain bothersomeness, depression, anxiety, fatigue and sleep disturbance.
- Open access publication: Darnall et al. 2021 publication in JAMA Netw Open received international coverage, an NIH press release and coverage in the NYTimes.
A second study showed that online-received Empowered Relief imparts clinically meaningful benefits across a broad range of symptoms (pain intensity, pain bothersomeness, pain interference, pain-related distress and sleep disturbance).
- Open access publication: Ziadni et al. 2021 publication in JMIR.
Clinician Certification Workshops:
“Empowered Relief” instructor certification workshops are available to licensed clinicians through Stanford University.
Three NIH-funded trials are investigating Empowered Relief in different patient populations. In 2021, Beth received an $11.1M research award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to conduct a national comparative effectiveness study of 1-session online Empowered Relief vs. 8-session online cognitive behavioral therapy for people with all types of pain conditions.
Empowered Relief for Surgery
Beth has translated the Empowered Relief formula into digital formats that are tailored to people undergoing all types of surgery. This automated treatment is available to patients on-demand at home or in the hospital after surgery. This approach expands access to whole-person pain care for underserved populations.
Study 1, Breast Cancer Surgery:
Results showed that women who engaged with an automated version of Empowered Relief (called “My Surgical Success”) required about one week less opioids after breast cancer surgery relative to women who received a health education control intervention.
- Open access publication: Darnall et al. 2019 publication in Pain Medicine.
- Further reading: Medscape quotes Beth Darnall in the story “Pain Expectations Before Surgery May Be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.”
Study 2, Orthopedic Trauma Surgery:
Patients who received the on-demand version of Empowered Relief (called My Surgical Success) reported less pain after surgery, and the analgesic benefits persisted to 3 months after surgery. Results suggest that Empowered Relief clinically meaningful and sustained analgesia and enhances recovery after surgery.
- Open access publication: Ziadni et al. June 2022 publication in Anesthesia and Analgesia.
- Video: MedPage Today publishes a video interview with Beth Darnall about her colleagues’ and her research on Empowered Relief for surgery and implications for the broader field of digital innovations in pain management.
Junie Carriere is principal investigator for a research award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research that is investigating Empowered Relief in acutely injured patients within primary care in Canada.
Patient-Centered Opioid Research
Beth is the principal investigator for the EMPOWER study, a 4-state voluntary patient-centered study on voluntary opioid tapering and behavioral medicine treatments for pain. She consults with healthcare organizations, federal agencies, and clinicians on opioid stewardship for patients who wish to reduce opioids, and protecting all patients from harmful opioid reduction policies and practices. Beth believes that improving access to pain care includes ensuring that the patients who need prescription opioids have access to them.