Targeting Chronic Pain in Primary Care Settings by Using Behavioral Health Consultants: Methods of a Randomized Pragmatic Trial

Goodie, J. L., Kanzler, K. E., McGeary, C. A., Blankenship, A. E., Young-McCaughan, S., Peterson, A. L, Cobos, B. A, Dobmeyer, A. C., Hunter, C. L, Blue Star, J., Bhagwat, A., & McGeary, D. D.
Dec 10, 2020

Pain Medicine, 21(Suppl 2), S83–S90. Pain Medicine, 21(Suppl 2), S83–S90.


Manualized cognitive and behavioral therapies are increasingly used in primary care environments to improve nonpharmacological pain management. The Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain (BCBT-CP) intervention, recently implemented by the Defense Health Agency for use across the military health system, is a modular, primary care–based treatment program delivered by behavioral health consultants integrated into primary care for patients experiencing chronic pain. Although early data suggest that this intervention improves functioning, it is unclear whether the benefits of BCBT-CP are sustained. The purpose of this paper is to describe the methods of a pragmatic clinical trial designed to test the effect of monthly telehealth booster contacts on treatment retention and long-term clinical outcomes for BCBT-CP treatment, as compared with BCBT-CP without a booster, in 716 Defense Health Agency beneficiaries with chronic pain.


A randomized pragmatic clinical trial will be used to examine whether telehealth booster contacts improve outcomes associated with BCBT-CP treatments. Monthly booster contacts will reinforce BCBT-CP concepts and the home practice plan. Outcomes will be assessed 3, 6, 12, and 18 months after the first appointment for BCBT-CP. Focus groups will be conducted to assess the usability, perceived effectiveness, and helpfulness of the booster contacts.


Most individuals with chronic pain are managed in primary care, but few are offered biopsychosocial approaches to care. This pragmatic brief trial will test whether a pragmatic enhancement to routine clinical care, monthly booster contacts, results in sustained functional changes among patients with chronic pain receiving BCBT-CP in primary care.