Skip to main content

Texas A&M psychologist works to address opioid crisis

Professor Mary Meagher represented the American Psychological Association on the federal task force created to address pain management in the nation's opioid crisis.

By Alix Poth ’18

The federal task force addressing the opioid crisis recently released its final report of recommendations for pain management best practices. The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force included members of federal and non-federal agencies to represent a wide spectrum of expertise. Mary MeagherTexas A&M’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences professor, represented the American Psychological Association (APA). 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Task Force Report identified areas of improvement as well as five broad treatment approaches for pain management. It emphasized the importance of providing “individualized, patient-centered care, multidisciplinary approaches, and consideration of special patient populations.” The five major treatment approaches include medication, restorative therapies, interventional procedures, behavioral health, and complementary and integrative health. 

The final report was released after a 90-day public comment period, where over 165 medical organizations expressed support and constructive feedback. The members of the Task Force will now focus on the dissemination of its findings, as well as implementation of the best practices recommendations. 

“Over the past month, I have been working closely with the Task Force and the APA on implementation activities,” Meagher said. “Two weeks ago, the APA approved a workforce development program that will train psychologists in pain management using online continuing education module. The APA is also writing an article about the implications of the report for psychologists.” 

“The Task Force was created in the midst of a national opioid epidemic, but also at a time when an estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. experience chronic daily pain,” Dr. Vanila Singh, Chief Medical Officer of the Task Force, reported. “It is important to strike a balance between mitigating opioid exposure while ensuring that adequate pain treatments are available for patients to have the best quality of life possible.”

Read the full report here