Office of Research & Development

Voices of VA Research Podcast Series

| Also available on iTunes |

Severely limiting opioid prescriptions may harm pain patients

Erica Sprey of VA Research Communications speaks with Dr. Stefan Kertesz, an internal medicine physician who works primarily with Veterans experiencing homelessness and substance use disorder. He runs the patient-aligned care team for homelessness at the Birmingham VA Medical Center in Alabama, and serves on its opioid safety initiative committee. In addition to conducting research on interventions for homelessness and substance use disorder, Kertesz has written extensively on the problem of opioid addiction and the movement to severely restrict opioid prescriptions.

Read More: 'Will strict limits on opioid prescription duration prevent addiction?'

Listen(9:43), Transcript

 Dr. Stefan Kertesz

Comparing psychotherapies for PTSD

Mitch Mirkin of VA Research Communications talks with Dr. Paula Schnurr, director of VA's National Center for PTSD, about a major clinical trial now underway in VA called "Comparative Effectiveness Research in Veterans with PTSD (CERV-PTSD)." The trial is a head-to-head comparison of the two main psychotherapies VA uses to treat PTSD. The trial, sponsored by VA's Cooperative Studies Program, will involve 900 Veterans at nearly 20 VA sites.

Listen(22:48), Transcript

Dr. Paula Schnurr

Addressing homelessness in Veteran populations

Erica Sprey of VA Research Communications speaks with Dr. Jack Tsai who is a clinical psychologist and researcher at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System and the New England Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) in West Haven, Connecticut. Dr. Tsai's research focuses on addressing and improving outreach and services for homeless Veterans, so that they can successfully live in independent housing.

Read more: Improving services for homeless Veterans

Listen(7:56), Transcript

Dr. Jack Tsai

(Photo by Robert Lisak)

Researcher seeks answers to brain disorder in deceased Veterans, athletes

Mike Richman of VA Research Communications interviews Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the VA Boston Healthcare System, about her research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The degenerative brain disease has been found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma and can only be diagnosed posthumously. Dr. McKee, one of the top CTE experts in the country, has found traces of CTE in the brains of former athletes, mostly football players, and Veterans. Both groups are susceptible to head trauma and concussions.

Listen(12:51), Transcript

Dr. Ann McKee

(Photo by Frank Curran)

Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI)

Mitch Mirkin of VA Research Communications interviews Dr. Amy Kilbourne, director of VA's Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), about the program's history and current work and how it is impacting Veterans' care. The goal of QUERI is to support the implementation of research findings into everyday clinical services within the VA health care system.

Listen(23:01), Transcript

Dr. Amy Kilbourne, director of VA’s Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

Using mindfulness to combat heart disease in women Veterans

Erica Sprey of VA Research Communications speaks with Dr. Karen Saban, a research scientist at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Saban is currently investigating the ways that stress can cause inflammation in the body, which can potentially lead to inflammatory-related conditions like heart disease. She is currently investigating the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to reduce the risk of heart disease in women Veterans.

Listen(8:11), Transcript

Read more: Using mindfulness to combat stress-related heart disease in women Veterans

Dr. Karen Saban and research participant Bianca Calhoun demonstrate the EndoPAT machine, used to measure blood vessel elasticity. (Photo by Daniel DuVerney, Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, Chicago)

(Photo by Daniel DuVerney, Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, Chicago)

OpenNotes in Mental Health Care

Mitch Mirkin of VA Research Communications speaks with Dr. Steven Dobscha, director of the Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care, based at the VA Portland Health Care System, about his group's research into OpenNotes, which allows patients to view the notes their clinicians write about their health care visits. The team recently studied the use of OpenNotes for Veterans receiving mental health care in VA.

Listen(14:41), Transcript

Read more: What happens when patients access their mental health providers' notes?

 Dr. Steven Dobscha

(Photo by Michael Moody)

Emotional Effects on Military Personnel, Veterans Bereaved by Suicide

Mike Richman of VA Research Communications interviews Dr. Peter Gutierrez, a clinical research psychologist with the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, about his study that finds military personnel and Veterans bereaved by suicide may themselves be at elevated suicide risk. The study looks at how active-duty service members and Veterans react when someone they are close with dies by suicide. Dr. Gutierrez is also co-director of the Military Suicide Research Consortium, a DoD-funded body that investigates the causes and prevention of suicide. (4-19-17)

Listen(7:27), Transcript

Read more: Suicide exposure leaves emotional scars on Vets, service members

Dr. Peter Gutierrez

(Photo by Rachel Warden)

Brief Interventions for Substance Use Disorders in Veterans with Hep C

Erica Sprey of VA Research Communications speaks with Dr. Michael Cucciare, associate director for research training at the south central MIRECC in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dr. Cucciare is the principle investigator for the VA-funded study "Web-based Intervention to Reduce Alcohol Use in Veterans with Hepatitis C," which is part of a larger CREATE initiative that will study care innovations for substance use disorders in the VA. (4-19-17)

Listen(6:48), Transcript

Read more: Improving care for Veterans with substance use disorders

Dr. Michael Cucciare (center) meets with CREATE team members (from left) Kathy Marchant-Miros, BSN, Mitzi Mosier, and Traci Abraham, PhD. (Photo by: Ashley McDaniel, South Central MIRECC)

(Photo by: Ashley McDaniel, South Central MIRECC)

Long-Term Study of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Mitch Mirkin of VA Research Communication interviews Dr. William Walker, of the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium, about a major study that will enroll at least 1,100 service members and Veterans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan. The goal is to learn more about mild traumatic brain injury and how it can be best evaluated, and perhaps prevented and treated. The study aims to track the outcomes of TBI, and related health issues, for at least 20 years. (3-15-17)

Listen(9:55), Transcript

Read more: VA-Defense study aims to track mild TBI over decades

Dr. William Walker is seen with Joe Montanari, who served in the Army from 1999 –2008, including duty in Iraq.  Montanari works as a research assistant at the Richmond VA Medical Center. The TBI study led by Walker will include blood tests to check for certain genetic factors, in addition to brain scans, exams, and many other measures. (Photo by Jason Miller)

(Photo by Jason Miller)

Needs of Veterans with Traumatic Upper-Limb Amputations

Mike Richman of VA Research Communications interviews Dr. Linda Resnik, a research scientist at the VA Medical Center in Providence, Rhode Island, about her study on evaluating the needs of Veterans with traumatic upper-limb amputations. She has long been researching prosthetic technologies and the outcomes for upper-limb prosthesis users at VA and Defense medical sites—and in academia. DoD is funding Dr. Resnik's study, which will be the largest and most comprehensive study of Veterans and service members with upper-limb amputations. (3-2-17)

Listen(8:18), Transcript

Read more: Study to explore needs of upper-limb amputees

Dr. Linda Resnik

(Photo by Kimberly DiDonato)

Substance Use Disorders in the Veteran Population

Erica Sprey of VA Research Communications speaks with Dr. Keith Humphreys, associate director for the Veterans Health Administration's Center for Innovation to Implementation in Palo Alto, California. Dr. Humphreys is a national expert on substance use disorders. In this interview, he discusses the prevalence of substance use disorders in the Veteran population and how they differ from those in the general population. (2-9-17)

Listen(7:20), Transcript

Read more: Improving care for Veterans with substance use disorders

Dr. Keith Humphreys

(Photo courtesy: K. Humphreys)

Biomarkers for Gulf War illness

Mike Richman of VA Research Communications interviews Dr. Apostolos Georgopoulos, head of the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, about his team's work on Gulf War illness. The group has pinpointed genetic variants that appear to make Veterans more vulnerable to the illness. They also found that a certain type of brain scan can reliably distinguish between Vets with and without the condition. (1-30-17)

Listen(5:29), Transcript

Read more: Studies point to gene-based glitches in ill Gulf War Vets

(From left) Drs. Lisa James, Brian Engdahl, and Apostolos Georgopoulos (director) are with the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA. They are seen here next to the center's MEG scanner. (Photo by April Eilers)

(Photo by April Eilers)


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