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PCORI Invests $23.5M in Innovative mHealth, Telehealth Studies

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   December 03, 2021

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is funding three research studies that will study the effectiveness of mHealth tools and telehealth platforms in treatments for smoking cessation, pain and depression.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is investing $23.5 million in three studies aimed at using mHealth and telehealth tools to help quit smoking, manage pain and deal with mild to moderate depression.

“With the explosion of telehealth, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, studies assessing how well telehealth strategies work in different contexts are highly relevant for many Americans, and we look forward to the insights gleaned from these studies as well as all the other newly approved research projects,” PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH, said in a press release.

The three projects are part of a nine-project slate of clinical effectiveness research (CES) studies approved by the Washington-based profit, totalling $49.5 million.

At the University of Florida, researchers are getting almost $4.5 million to study the effectiveness of two programs: iCanQuit, which uses mHealth-based cognitive-behavioral treatments to promote cessation through a greater acceptance of triggers for smoking and commitment to personal values; and Motiv8, which promotes smoking cessation with automatic financial rewards based on evidence of abstinence. The study will co pare a combination of the two to iCanQuit alone and the Florida Quitline.

At Stanford University, researchers are getting roughly $10.3 million to study the effectiveness of a two-hour, online “Empowered Relief” cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) session for treating chronic pain against what’s considered the gold standard – 8 CBT sessions, totalling 16 hours, delivered either in-person or online. The six-site study will involve 1,200 adults with a variety of pain conditions and income levels spread across the country.

And at Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers are getting about $8.7 million to study whether virtual yoga sessions, delivered either individually or remotely to a group of participants, compare favorably against psychotherapy and medication of helping people with mild to moderate depression. The study will help to determine whether virtual yoga is effective and offer evidence to payers that the treatment should be covered.

In addition, the board announced two targeted funding announcements for 2022: a $30 million fund to support studies targeting alcohol abuse among youth 12 to 17 years old, and a $30 million fund to support research on delirium in older adults. They’re part of a three-year, $1.8 billion funding commitment announced this week, comprised of $1.5 billion for research studies, $180 million for dissemination and implementation projects, and $160 million for projects related to infrastructure and accelerating patient-centered outcomes research.

Eric Wicklund is the Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.

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