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Beth Darnall

Beth Darnall

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine (Adult MSD) and, by courtesy, of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (General Psychiatry & Psychology (Adult)) at the Stanford University Medical Center
PhD Training:University of Colorado at Boulder (2002) CO
Fellowship:The Johns Hopkins University (2004) MD
Internship:Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System (2002) AZ
MA, University of Colorado at Boulder, Clinical Psychology (1998)
PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder, Clinical Psychology (2002)
Post-Doc, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Rehabilitation Psychology (2004)
Beth Darnall, PhD, is Clinical Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, and by courtesy, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is a pain psychologist and scientist. Broadly, her research investigates how to best treat and prevent chronic pain. Specific interests include applying behavioral medicine strategies to facilitate pain control and opioid reduction, as well as developing and investigating digital behavioral pain medicine solutions. She is a principal investigator for $14M in federal and independent research awards.

She is principal investigator for the EMPOWER study, 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 involves 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 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). Learn more about the EMPOWER study at

She is Co-PI for an active NIH R01 randomized controlled clinical trial that is studying the mechanisms of pain catastrophizing treatment, including a novel single-session compressed pain psychology class she developed. She is also investigating a fully automated, digital, perioperative pain psychology treatment she developed ("My Surgical Success") 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 broad goal of this collective line of research is to dismantle barriers to access for 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 three books: "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 “Psychological Treatment for Patients with Chronic Pain" (c) 2018. 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