Beth Darnall

Beth Darnall

Pain management specialist, Pain psychologist

Bio:   Beth Darnall, PhD, is Clinical Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine. She is a pain psychologist and scientist. Broadly, her research investigates how to best treat and prevent chronic pain. She is a principal investigator for $14M in federal and independent research awards.

She is principal investigator for a multi-site, 4-state pragmatic clinical trial that is investigating how to best help physicians and patients successfully reduce long term opioid use in chronic pain using patient-centered methods. The project is funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and will involve 1,300 patients taking long term opioids; the goal is to reduce patient health risks without increasing pain. This research involves a 3-arm RCT comparative effectiveness trial of two evidence-based behavioral treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy for pain and chronic pain self-management, within the context of voluntary, patient-centered opioid tapering. This research builds on her team's first report on "Patient-Centered Prescription Opioid Tapering in Community Outpatients with Chronic Pain" (Darnall et al, JAMA Int Med, 2018).

She is co-principal investigator for an NIH R01 project that is studying the mechanisms of pain catastrophizing treatment, including a novel single-session compressed pain psychology class she developed. She is also investigating an Internet-based pre-surgical pain psychology treatment she developed that aims to reduce distress and optimize post-surgical recovery, including pain and opioid cessation (tested in women undergoing surgery for breast cancer at Stanford). The goal of this research is to dismantle barriers to effective psychological treatment for pain.

Her primary interest is helping people with chronic pain to optimize their mind-body connection to reduce their own symptoms, improve health and function, and enhance response to medical treatments (placebo response). She is author of "Less Pain, Fewer Pills: Avoid the Dangers of Prescription Opioids and Gain Control Over Chronic Pain" © 2014, "The Opioid-Free Pain Relief Kit" © 2016, and the forthcoming book due in 2018 from the American Psychological Association Press entitled “Psychological Treatment for Chronic Pain: The Evidence-Based Basics”. Since 2016, she has been featured and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Scientific American Mind, WebMD, BBC World Service Radio, The Washington Post, TIME Magazine, and Nature.

As a member of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute team, she spoke at the 2018 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on "The Psychology of Pain Relief".
Twitter: @bethdarnall

Pain Management Center

  • 450 Broadway Street
  • Pavilion A, 1st Floor
  • Redwood City , CA 94063
  • Phone: 650-723-6238
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Professional Education

  • Internship: Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System (2002) AZ
  • Fellowship: The Johns Hopkins University (2004) MD
  • Post-Doc, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Rehabilitation Psychology (2004)
  • University of Colorado at Boulder (2002) CO
  • MA, University of Colorado at Boulder, Clinical Psychology (1998)
  • PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder, Clinical Psychology (2002)

Honors & Awards

  • 2015 Presidential Commendation, American Academy of Pain Medicine (2015)
  • Elected Member, Association of University Anesthesiologists (2016)

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