Future Leader Spotlight
Mary Janevic, PhD MPH
The Regents of the University of Michigan
MA new model to reach vulnerable older adults with pain self-management support
How/why did you enter the field of pain?
I first became interested in chronic pain while working on a project years ago that involved conducting qualitative interviews with patients who had multiple chronic conditions. I noticed that people who had chronic pain as a comorbidity tended to struggle with daily life more than those who did not have pain, even when their health status was otherwise similar. Simply put, pain seemed to sap people of the motivation and ability to manage their health and to fully engage in life, and I wanted to develop ways to help people living with pain improve their quality of life. I was fortunate to have fabulous mentors at the University of Michigan who are experts in this area, and who encouraged me to learn more about cognitive-behavioral approaches to managing pain and about emerging modalities, such as mHealth, for delivering pain self-management support. I approach my work from a public health perspective, which to me means understanding disparities in pain treatment and outcomes, and prioritizing population groups with the greatest pain burden.
What does it mean for you to be a 2018 Future Leaders Recipient?
I feel humbled and honored - when I look at the list of past recipients of the Future Leaders award, I can see that I have big footsteps to fill! I’m also very excited about my project, in particular working with community health workers to develop their role in delivering a pain self-management support intervention to older adults in an underserved urban community.
What is your favorite part of your work, and why?
I feel incredibly fortunate that my work gives me the opportunity to interact with so many different types of people in so many different roles...scientists, clinicians, students at all levels, staff of community-based organizations, people living with pain, and others. I learn so much from all of those groups, as each has their own unique expertise. Also, I have a particular fondness for mixed-methods research - I love numbers and I love stories, and I believe that by combining the two we can best develop patient-centered approaches to treating chronic pain.