UF physicians receive grant to study effects of health disparities on pain management

Two faculty physicians at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville have received a $20,000 grant from the Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to study the impact socioeconomics have on quality of life for chronic pain patients. The study will involve 150 adult patients, particularly those at the Pain Management Center, emergency room and pain management program at the UF Health C.B. McIntosh Center on the UF Health Jacksonville campus.

The study titled “Neighborhood of Pain – Health Disparity Influence on Level of Chronic Pain Interference (HELP)” will target elderly and lower-income patients with degenerative spine conditions. Neighborhood resources, access to care and living conditions are among the myriad of nonmedical factors that will be assessed for each participant. 

Monika Patel, M.D., an assistant professor of anesthesiology who specializes in pain medicine, is the principal investigator of the one-year study. Sophia Sheikh, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine, is the co-investigator. 

“We want to take a holistic approach and learn about the factors that put these patients at the most risk for having pain outcomes that aren’t ideal,” Patel said.

Patel and Sheikh’s team will conduct psychosocial evaluations of each participant and have them complete questionnaires to determine pain levels and tolerance. 

Patel and Sheikh were selected for the grant in July 2019 and received funding in November 2019. They are now ready to begin the study. The funding will cover recruitment costs and financial incentives for patients and supplies, as well as the cost of data collection and analysis. 

They are the first UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville faculty members to receive a grant from the Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The aim is for this pilot study to spawn other research opportunities on campus tied to pain management. Meanwhile, the grant symbolizes the college’s attempt to champion more multidisciplinary and collaborative research studies among faculty, whether on campus or beyond.

“Dr. Patel and I have a mutual interest in the topic of pain management, so it made sense to pool resources and work together on this project,” said Sheikh. “We’re in the perfect environment to conduct this study because of the patient population we serve.”

About the Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Based in Rosemont, Illinois, the Foundation for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation strives to enhance the health, function and quality of life for individuals with disability through education and research in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. For more info, contact

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