July 6, 2017

Opioid and pain management research expands with new hire Dr. Lynn DeBar

Lynn DeBar, PhD, MPH, new KPWHRI faculty member.

A new senior investigator brings expertise in chronic pain treatment, behavior change, and clinical trials in Kaiser Permanente health systems.

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) gains a new senior faculty member in July. Lynn DeBar, PhD, MPH, is moving north to join KPWHRI but staying in the same health care system. Dr. DeBar has been a senior investigator and assistant program director at the Kaiser Permanente Northwest Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon.

“Lynn is a first-rate scientist who will help us continue and grow our productive pain research program,” says Senior Investigator Michael Von Korff, ScD, who has collaborated with Dr. DeBar. “Her thoughtfulness, collaborative nature, enthusiasm for her work, and leadership skills make her an excellent fit with KPWHRI.”

Dr. DeBar already has a strong connection to KPWHRI scientists. In addition to working with Dr. Von Korff on a study on cognitive behavioral therapy for depressed adolescents, she has collaborated with Senior Investigator Denise Boudreau, PhD, on chronic use of opioids after bariatric surgery. Dr. DeBar and Senior Investigator Greg Simon, MD, MPH, are each conducting one of 10 clinical trials for the National Institutes of Health Collaboratory, a consortium for which KPWHRI Executive Director Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, is a co-principal investigator. Dr. DeBar’s project, “Collaborative Care for Chronic Pain in Primary Care (PPACT),” is comparing usual care for chronic pain, including opioid prescriptions, to primary care that includes physical therapy, psychological interventions, and supporting patients in taking an active role in pain management. Dr. DeBar’s expertise also includes patient engagement and measuring the effects of complementary integrative health therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic care.

Dr. DeBar earned her PhD from Yale University in Clinical/Health Psychology and her MPH in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). She has been licensed as a psychologist in Oregon since 1995 and worked as a staff psychologist at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her academic experience includes an affiliation with the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, OHSU.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Lynn to our faculty,” says Dr. Larson. “She’ll strengthen our ability to study chronic disease management, complementary and integrative health options, and primary care interventions. She also has extensive knowledge of Kaiser Permanente clinical systems and how to do effective research with them.”

Dr. DeBar says she sees the possibility for many fruitful collaborations with her new KPWHRI colleagues. “I’m excited about exploring new projects in behavior change, mental health, technology-enabled interventions, and much more,” she says.

Kaiser Permanente Researcher Profile

Lynn L DeBar, PhD

Senior Investigator

Lynn DeBar, PhD, is a behavioral health researcher. Her work focuses on health issues that have emotional and physical causes and manifestations, such as eating disorders, pain syndromes, and obesity-related health problems. She is particularly interested in exploring how these health issues can be addressed and treated in primary-care settings and general medical practices. 

Dr. DeBar’s primary research interest is on developing treatments that address the complex interrelationships between physical symptoms and emotional disorders. Her work seeks to build on research showing that people with emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression, often seek treatment for related physical symptoms, and that people with a variety of physical ailments can benefit greatly from concomitant attention to their emotional and psychosocial conditions. Accordingly, Dr. DeBar’s research develops and evaluates treatment approaches that simultaneously recognize and address these complex needs. Dr. DeBar works closely with physicians at Kaiser Permanente Northwest (KPNW) to ensure that findings from her research are making their way into clinical practice, and, conversely, to examine how clinical practice can influence the design of mental-health interventions. This health services research identifies opportunities for improved service delivery.