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IU Med School, Regenstrief receive millions for study

(photo courtesy of the Regenstrief Institute)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has awarded nearly $3.5 million to the Indiana University School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis. The university says the study will look into what emergency departments can do to help the millions of people suffering from anxiety-caused chest pain. 

PCORI says 40% of people who to go hospital emergency rooms with chest pain are determined to have the pain due to anxiety rather than cardiac issues.

Regenstrief Institute Research Scientist Kurt Kroenke says non-cardiac chest pain and anxiety can be a vicious cycle for patients since they’re usually sent home from emergency rooms after a cardiac event has been ruled out.

“There are barriers to addressing anxiety in the emergency setting including scarce time, competing priorities, discomfort with mental health issues and a perceived lack of resources. Yet even if and when roadblocks are eliminated, providers still don’t know what anxiety treatment options will be most effective,” said Dr. Kroenke.

Kroenke and Paul Musey, principal investigator for the study and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the IU School of Medicine, are leading the study.

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PCORI says chest pain sends millions of Americans to the hospital every year with the fear that they’re having a cardiac problem. Yet researchers say chest pain in 8 of 10 patients evaluated in emergency departments was found to not be caused by a heart attack or other cardiac event. Researchers say undiagnosed, untreated or under-treated anxiety is the likely cause of the physical symptoms in as many as half of the chest pain patients determined to be low cardiac risks.

“This type of study is timely and well positioned with online and telehealth care delivery options given the increased awareness of the need to have the ability to provide virtual care for patients during this global pandemic,” said Dr. Musey.

As part of the study, 375 adults with chest pain, who were found to have the pain due to anxiety, will be randomly selected for three groups. The low intensity support group will be sent to primary care practices for anxiety treatment. The medium intensity support group will be referred to web-based, cognitive behavioral therapy with peer support from people who understand managing anxiety. The high intensity support group will be sent to live video chat cognitive behavioral therapy sessions with a psychologist.

The researchers say their goal for the three-year project is to help patients deal with anxiety and pain, along with helping doctors make appropriate decisions regarding anxiety treatment in hospital emergency departments.  

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