Skip to navigation Skip to content

News & Events

Enhancing treatment access for Missourians with chronic pain

MU internship program advances precision health by expanding opportunities for students in rural, underserved areas

Chronic pain is an issue that affects many Americans, and opioids are sometimes prescribed to help with pain management. According to government data, Missouri’s opioid prescription rate of 71.8 per 100 persons far exceeds the national rate of 58.7. 

Recently, MU received a $1.2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to provide clinical training to doctoral students. The students are then placed in underserved Missouri communities suffering from opioid use disorder. The principal investigator of the training program is Laura Schopp, chair and professor of health psychology at the MU School of Health Professions. 

“Our goal is to ensure that people with opioid use disorder have access to state of the art, empirically supported treatments, and that our faculty are able to offer specialized training to the next generation of clinicians,” Schopp said. “Whether it’s at rural medical centers, academic medical centers or urban high-need medical centers, we are helping to improve health outcomes for Missourians suffering with chronic pain and other chronic conditions.”

The funding will support several training partnerships throughout Missouri including:

  • Missouri Department of Mental Health
  • MU Department of Neurology 
  • MU Department of Surgery 
  • MU Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Missouri Institute of Mental Health 
  • MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders 
  • Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Administration Hospital

Training programs like Schopp’s highlight the value of the NextGen Precision Health Institute, which is set to open at MU in the fall of 2021.  The 265,000-square-foot institute will bring together some of the nation’s best researchers, clinicians and industry partners to perform lifesaving research in cancer, stroke, autism, traumatic brain injuries and other challenging conditions — such as chronic pain. 

The internship program will provide professional opportunities for doctoral students such as John Lace and Dylan Seitz, who are completing their clinical internships at MU and specialize in neuropsychology. 

“We are the first stop on the road to recovery,” Lace said. “Assessing patients who might be struggling with cognitive difficulties due to drug abuse can help us provide tailored recommendations so that the patients ultimately receive the best treatment plan possible.”

The grant will help active duty military members at Fort Leonard Wood Army Post, patients of the Truman Medical Center in Kansas City and the rural community surrounding Waynesville, Missouri. The Health Resources and Services Administration identified all but six of Missouri’s 115 counties as a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area due to high need, poverty and/or geographic barriers to care.

For more, see “Internship program will help address opioid epidemic in underserved communities.”