September 27, 2023
The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (HJF), Inc., is pleased to announce a clinical research award of $900,000 to the Indiana Institute for Medical Research, which is collaborating with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center (Indianapolis, IN), as part of the Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network.
Creative Forces is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs that seeks to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for military and veteran populations exposed to trauma, as well as their families and caregivers. HJF will manage the new award, to support a randomized controlled trial of music therapy for U.S. veterans with chronic pain.
“This research award is the culmination of serial investments in pilot studies to evaluate the clinical impact of creative arts therapies for military-connected populations,” Sunil Iyengar, director of Research & Analysis for the National Endowment for the Arts, said. “It also marks an exciting new phase for our clinical research program.”
The research project is titled “Stepped-Care Intervention of Music and Imagery to Assess Relief (SCIMITAR) Trial” and will test whether a two-step music therapy intervention improves pain, psychological symptoms (anxiety, PTSD, depression, and stress), and health-related quality of life in veterans with chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain. “Stepped care” involves starting with lower-intensity, less costly treatments and transitioning patients to more intensive or complex approaches as may be warranted. In this case, Step 1 is a music-listening intervention, while step 2 is a music imagery intervention in which participants are asked to associate selected pieces of music to an identified image.
The primary hypothesis for the trial is that a stepped-care intervention is more effective than a control condition in reducing pain interference. A secondary hypothesis is that stepped-care is more effective than the control condition in reducing psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, PTSD, and stress) and improving other secondary outcomes (pain severity, health-related quality of life, sleep, resiliency, and self-efficacy). The study will also assess opioid use among participants and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of step 1 (music listening) and step 2 (music imagery) interventions. The principal investigators are Matthew J. Bair, MD, MS, and Kristin Maya Story, PhD, MT-BC.
Through Creative Forces, the NEA is investing in research exploring the physical, social, and emotional impact and benefits of creative arts therapies. Earlier this year, the NEA and HJF released a request for applications to address one of the two key questions articulated in Creative Forces’ conceptual frameworks for guiding clinical research investments:
- How and to what extent does art therapy affect emotional processing and self-regulation for service members and veterans?
- How and to what extent does music therapy affect the perception of chronic pain in service members and/or veterans who experience chronic pain?
Relief from chronic pain and improved emotional regulation are two key outcome areas of interest to the Creative Forces clinical team, based on the patient populations served by the federal initiative.
Support of such studies—and the pursuit of more rigorous research designs for investigating creative arts therapies—is envisioned in the Creative Forces Clinical Research Strategic Framework and Five-Year Agenda, which outlined goals for expanding Creative Forces’ research capacity.
NEA Public Affairs, email@example.com
The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (HJF), now celebrating its 40th anniversary, is a global nonprofit organization with the mission to advance military medicine. HJF’s scientific, administrative and program operations services empower investigators, clinicians, and medical researchers around the world to make discoveries in all areas of medicine. HJF serves as a trusted and responsive link between the military medical community, federal and private partners, and the millions of warfighters, veterans, and civilians who benefit from military medicine.