Cutting-Edge Pain Treatment at the Veterans Administration

teacher students

The measure of success is the [patient’s] ability to live a value- and mission-filled life. Now doesn’t that throw on its head what health care is designed to do?

Henri Roca, MD

The Veterans Administration (VA) leads the nation in pain research and treatment. Their whole health model frames all patient encounters, creating a therapeutic partnership and shared decision-making.1 How does a nine-week group class impact pain scores?

In this Grand Rounds presentation recorded at Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, Henri Roca, MD, elaborates upon the group visit framework used at the VA for chronic pain. He covers many clinical factors, including the following:

  • The role of group visits in motivating lifestyle change2
  • How to assess social support and other pain mediators
  • Mindfulness, nutrition, movement, and stress interventions
  • Why fascia and muscular health must be considered separately
  • Initial and later-stage interventions

If a person has success in any one thing they choose, they are more likely to pursue other things they may not have been ready to choose in the moment. And those things are much more sustainable.

Henri Roca, MD

The goal of the chronic pain management program at the VA is to create a plan for a healthy life. Group classes provide the tools and support for long-term change and measurable changes in pain scores and self-assessment results. Watch this interview with Mark Hyman, MD, and Dr. Roca to hear more about how this approach is changing outcomes for veterans with chronic pain.


View more free Grand Rounds Presentations


  1. Rakel D, Rindfleisch JA, Gaudet T. The whole health process. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 4th ed. Elsevier; 2018:27-33.e1. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-35868-2.00004-9.
  2. Sullivan MJ, Adams H, Sullivan ME. Communicative dimensions of pain catastrophizing: social cueing effects on pain behaviour and coping. Pain. 2004;107(3):220-226. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2003.11.003.

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