TRIPLL researchers can study firsthand how race, class, cultural differences, and other factors influence chronic pain.
Elaine Wethington, TRIPLL co-principal investigator and professor of human development and sociology, called New York City the "ideal living laboratory" for treating persistent pain in the elderly.
In a pilot study funded by TRIPLL, Corinna Loeckenhoff, assistant professor of human development, is applying theories from behavioral economics to understand how seniors view their options for pain management.
The pilot studies program, which seeds innovative research projects by young investigators, is a key component of TRIPLL. In 2010, two such projects have received $10,000 in funding: Loeckenhoff's study, and a trial attempt to train physical therapists to use cognitive behavior therapy with elderly patients who have had joint replacement surgery.
"Unfortunately, there are many evidence-based treatments that can help alleviate pain in older adults, but they don't know about them or have access to them, or doctors are unaware of them," said Wethington, director of TRIPLL's pilot studies program.
Like other aspects of TRIPLL, the pilot programs have a strong base in the community.
Rhoda Meador, associate director for outreach and extension and associate director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center, called TRIPLL's deep ties to the community a "model for how translational research is done."