Lynn L DeBar, PhD

“U.S. health care systems still largely separate body and mind in treatment. My research aims to bridge that divide for patients with chronic conditions—supporting them in adopting sustainable lifestyle changes that best optimize their quality of life and broader functioning day-to-day.”

Lynn DeBar, PhD

Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute


Lynn DeBar, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and behavioral health researcher. Her work focuses on health issues that have emotional and physical causes and manifestations, including pain syndromes, eating disorders, 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 the role of behaviorally oriented interdisciplinary approaches as well as complementary and integrative health practices in this treatment.

Dr. DeBar’s work builds 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 develops and evaluates treatment approaches that simultaneously address these complex physical and emotional needs. Dr. DeBar works closely with physicians at Kaiser Permanente and other health care systems to ensure that her research findings make their way into clinical practice, and to identify real-world clinical practices that have the potential to improve service delivery through large-scale adoption of behavioral and lifestyle interventions.

Dr. DeBar holds a PhD in clinical and community psychology, with an emphasis on health psychology, from Yale University. Dr. DeBar also received an MPH from Oregon Health & Sciences University, where she focused on epidemiology and biostatistics. From 2002 to 2017 Dr. DeBar was a Senior Investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon. In 2017 she moved to the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute as a Senior Scientist. She has ongoing studies in both settings and plans to continue bridging the two research units.

Research interests and experience

  • Chronic Illness Management

    Physical-mental health comorbidity, self-care, chronic pain, shared decision-making

  • Chronic Pain

    Synergistic combination of health services research and pragmatic clinical trials approaches

  • Behavior Change

    Promoting patient autonomy, supporting sustained self-management, use of technology-aided behavior change tools

  • Complementary & Integrative Health

    Use for pain conditions broadly, association with self-care, mind-body therapies, coordination of CIH with conventional medical care

  • Mental Health

    Depression, anxiety, and chronic disease comorbidity, eating disorders


Recent publications

Mayhew M, DeBar LL, Deyo RA, Kerns RD, Goulet JL, Brandt CA, Von Korff M. Development and Assessment of a Crosswalk Between ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM to Identify Patients with Common Pain Conditions. LID - S1526-5900(18)30784-3 [pii] LID - 10.1016/j.jpain.2019.05.006 [doi] J Pain. 2019 May 23. pii: S1526-5900(18)30784-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2019.05.006 [Epub ahead of print] PubMed

Curtis LH, Dember LM, Vazquez MA, Murray D, DeBar L, Staman KL, Septimus E, Mor V, Volandes A, Wells BL, Huang SS, Green BB, Coronado G, Meyers CM, Tuzzio L, Hernandez AF, Sugarman J. Addressing guideline and policy changes during pragmatic clinical trials. Clin Trials. 2019 May 14:1740774519845682. doi: 10.1177/1740774519845682. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Kroenke K, Krebs EE, Turk D, Von Korff M, Bair MJ, Allen KD, Sandbrink F, Cheville AL, DeBar L, Lorenz KA, Kerns RD. Core outcome measures for chronic musculoskeletal pain research: recommendations from a Veterans Health Administration Work Group. Pain Med. 2019 Jan 5. pii: 5274160. doi: 10.1093/pm/pny279. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Owen-Smith AA, Ahmedani BK, Peterson E, Simon GE, Rossom RC, Lynch F, Lu CY, Waitzfelder BE, Beck A, DeBar L, Sanon V, Maaz Y, Khan S, Miller-Matero LR, Prabhakar D, Frank C, Drake CL, Braciszewski J. The mediating effect of sleep disturbance on the relationship between non-malignant chronic pain and suicide death. Pain Pract. 2019 Apr;19(4):382-389. doi: 10.1111/papr.12750. Epub 2019 Jan 18. PubMed

Dahlhamer J, Lucas J, Zelaya C, Nahin R, Mackey S, DeBar L, Kerns R, Von Korff M, Porter L, Helmick C. Prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain among adults -United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(36):1001-1006. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6736a2. PubMed


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