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Michael Von Korff, ScD

TitleSenior Investigator
InstitutionKaiser Permanente Washington
DepartmentHealth Research Institute
ORCID ORCID Icon0000-0001-5386-8477 Additional info
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    Collapse Overview 
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    Michael Von Korff, ScD, has carried out groundbreaking research on the management and outcomes of chronic pain, depression, and other illnesses in primary care settings. His work as an epidemiologist and health services researcher focuses on understanding how patients adapt to chronic illnesses associated with pain and psychological distress, including how they use health care services and medicines, and how they cope with illness in their daily lives.

    Nationally known for his research on collaborative care for depression, Dr. Von Korff’s recent work has focused on trends and risks of long-term prescription of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. In 2010, he and colleagues published the first study to link higher risk of fatal and nonfatal opioid overdoses to higher daily dose prescribed. Dr. Von Korff then worked with clinical leaders at Kaiser Permanente Washington to implement a multi-faceted opioid safety initiative led to a 63 percent drop in the number of patients on high opioid doses. With funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Dr. Von Korff is now evaluating the effects of these practice changes on patient pain outcomes and opioid-related adverse events.

    Dr. Von Korff is also working on the Team-Based Opioid Management project, which is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The project provides a public website with dozens of resources and tools that support safer opioid prescribing. Its centerpiece is the “Six Building Blocks”—the core components of safe, team-based opioid prescribing that have been implemented successfully in primary care settings across the country.

    Earlier in his career, Dr. Von Korff co-led a series of major randomized trials examining various approaches to chronic illness management in primary care, including collaborative care for depression and interventions to improve self-care of chronic-recurrent back pain. A major focus throughout his career has been studying mental-physical comorbidity and how patients manage distressing physical symptoms. This research has included a series of longitudinal studies of disability and health care use among primary care patients with depression, back pain, headache, and other chronic pain conditions.

    Dr. Von Korff co-founded Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, an organization that has effectively advocated nationally for more cautious and selective opioid prescribing. He has published more than 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals on chronic pain, mental health, chronic illness, and disability. In 1997, he was selected as a fellow of AcademyHealth and of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. In 2002, the Institute for Scientific Information recognized him as one of the nation’s most highly cited scientists in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. He has served as an advisor to major global mental health studies conducted by the World Health Organization. He also served as KPWHRI’s Associate Director for Research from 1992 to 1996 and again from 1999 to 2005.

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    1. Von Korff M, Saunders K, Dublin S, Walker RL, Thakral M, Sherman KJ, Ludman EJ, Hansen RN, Parchman M, Shortreed SM. Impact of Chronic Opioid Therapy Risk Reduction Initiatives on Opioid Overdose. J Pain. 2018 Sep 03. PMID: 30189248.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Mansell G, Hill JC, Main CJ, Von Korff M, van der Windt D. Mediators of Treatment Effect in the Back In Action Trial: Using Latent Growth Modeling to Take Change Over Time Into Account. Clin J Pain. 2017 Sep; 33(9):811-819. PMID: 27930393.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Young-Wolff KC, Klebaner D, Weisner C, Von Korff M, Campbell CI. Smoking Status and Opioid-related Problems and Concerns Among Men and Women on Chronic Opioid Therapy. Clin J Pain. 2017 Aug; 33(8):730-737. PMID: 27898458.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Von Korff M, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Thakral M, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Ludman E, Sherman KJ, Dublin S. Prevalence of prescription opioid use disorder among chronic opioid therapy patients after health plan opioid dose and risk reduction initiatives. Int J Drug Policy. 2017 08; 46:90-98. PMID: 28666143.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Von Korff M, Shortreed SM, LeResche L, Saunders K, Thielke S, Thakral M, Rosenberg D, Turner JA. A longitudinal study of depression among middle-aged and senior patients initiating chronic opioid therapy. J Affect Disord. 2017 03 15; 211:136-143. PMID: 28113120.
      View in: PubMed
    6. Parchman ML, Von Korff M, Baldwin LM, Stephens M, Ike B, Cromp D, Hsu C, Wagner EH. Primary Care Clinic Re-Design for Prescription Opioid Management. J Am Board Fam Med. 2017 01 02; 30(1):44-51. PMID: 28062816.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Von Korff M, Scher AI, Helmick C, Carter-Pokras O, Dodick DW, Goulet J, Hamill-Ruth R, LeResche L, Porter L, Tait R, Terman G, Veasley C, Mackey S. United States National Pain Strategy for Population Research: Concepts, Definitions, and Pilot Data. J Pain. 2016 10; 17(10):1068-1080. PMID: 27377620.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Von Korff M, Turner JA, Shortreed SM, Saunders K, Rosenberg D, Thielke S, LeResche L. Timeliness of Care Planning upon Initiation of Chronic Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain. Pain Med. 2016 03; 17(3):511-520. PMID: 26814284.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Von Korff M, Dublin S, Walker RL, Parchman M, Shortreed SM, Hansen RN, Saunders K. The Impact of Opioid Risk Reduction Initiatives on High-Dose Opioid Prescribing for Patients on Chronic Opioid Therapy. J Pain. 2016 Jan; 17(1):101-10. PMID: 26476264; PMCID: PMC4698093 [Available on 01/01/17].
    10. Von Korff MR. Long-term use of opioids for complex chronic pain. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2013 Oct; 27(5):663-72. PMID: 24315147; PMCID: PMC4036624.
    11. Von Korff M, Shortreed SM, Saunders KW, LeResche L, Berlin JA, Stang P, Turner JA. Comparison of back pain prognostic risk stratification item sets. J Pain. 2014 Jan; 15(1):81-9. PMID: 24295877.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Von Korff M. Opioids for chronic musculoskeletal pain: putting patient safety first. Pain. 2013 Dec; 154(12):2583-5. PMID: 24076163; PMCID: PMC4036622.
    13. Von Korff M. Tailoring chronic pain care by brief assessment of impact and prognosis: comment on "Point-of-care prognosis for common musculoskeletal pain in older adults". JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jun 24; 173(12):1126-7. PMID: 23700159.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Von Korff M, Vitiello MV, McCurry SM, Balderson BH, Moore AL, Baker LD, Yarbro P, Saunders K, Keefe FJ, Rybarczyk BD. Group interventions for co-morbid insomnia and osteoarthritis pain in primary care: the lifestyles cluster randomized trial design. Contemp Clin Trials. 2012 Jul; 33(4):759-68. PMID: 22484341; PMCID: PMC3382989.
    15. Von Korff M, Katon WJ, Lin EH, Ciechanowski P, Peterson D, Ludman EJ, Young B, Rutter CM. Functional outcomes of multi-condition collaborative care and successful ageing: results of randomised trial. BMJ. 2011 Nov 10; 343:d6612. PMID: 22074851; PMCID: PMC3213240.
    16. Von Korff M, Kolodny A, Deyo RA, Chou R. Long-term opioid therapy reconsidered. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Sep 06; 155(5):325-8. PMID: 21893626; PMCID: PMC3280085.
    17. Von Korff M, Merrill JO, Rutter CM, Sullivan M, Campbell CI, Weisner C. Time-scheduled vs. pain-contingent opioid dosing in chronic opioid therapy. Pain. 2011 Jun; 152(6):1256-62. PMID: 21296498; PMCID: PMC3098951.
    18. Von Korff M. Commentary on Boscarino et al. (2010): Understanding the spectrum of opioid abuse, misuse and harms among chronic opioid therapy patients. Addiction. 2010 Oct; 105(10):1783-4. PMID: 20860077; PMCID: PMC2946161.
    19. Von Korff M, Alonso J, Ormel J, Angermeyer M, Bruffaerts R, Fleiz C, de Girolamo G, Kessler RC, Kovess-Masfety V, Posada-Villa J, Scott KM, Uda H. Childhood psychosocial stressors and adult onset arthritis: broad spectrum risk factors and allostatic load. Pain. 2009 May; 143(1-2):76-83. PMID: 19251363; PMCID: PMC2703588.
    20. Von Korff M, Oliver M, Fishman P, Burbank J. Cost-sharing for low-income workers: health insurance in the on-your-ownership society. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2008 Nov; 19(4):1229-40. PMID: 19029748.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Von Korff M, Dunn KM. Chronic pain reconsidered. Pain. 2008 Aug 31; 138(2):267-76. PMID: 18226858; PMCID: PMC2613775.
    22. Von Korff M, Lin EH, Fenton JJ, Saunders K. Frequency and priority of pain patients' health care use. Clin J Pain. 2007 Jun; 23(5):400-8. PMID: 17515738.
      View in: PubMed
    23. Von Korff M, Miglioretti DL. A prognostic approach to defining chronic pain. Pain. 2005 Oct; 117(3):304-13. PMID: 16153772.
      View in: PubMed
    24. Von Korff M, Katon W, Lin EH, Simon G, Ciechanowski P, Ludman E, Oliver M, Rutter C, Young B. Work disability among individuals with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2005 Jun; 28(6):1326-32. PMID: 15920047.
      View in: PubMed
    25. Von Korff M, Katon W, Lin EH, Simon G, Ludman E, Oliver M, Ciechanowski P, Rutter C, Bush T. Potentially modifiable factors associated with disability among people with diabetes. Psychosom Med. 2005 Mar-Apr; 67(2):233-40. PMID: 15784788.
      View in: PubMed
    26. Von Korff M, Balderson BH, Saunders K, Miglioretti DL, Lin EH, Berry S, Moore JE, Turner JA. A trial of an activating intervention for chronic back pain in primary care and physical therapy settings. Pain. 2005 Feb; 113(3):323-30. PMID: 15661440.
      View in: PubMed
    27. Von Korff M, Crane P, Lane M, Miglioretti DL, Simon G, Saunders K, Stang P, Brandenburg N, Kessler R. Chronic spinal pain and physical-mental comorbidity in the United States: results from the national comorbidity survey replication. Pain. 2005 Feb; 113(3):331-9. PMID: 15661441.
      View in: PubMed
    28. Von Korff M. Can care management enhance integration of primary and specialty care? BMJ. 2004 Sep 11; 329(7466):605. PMID: 15361444; PMCID: PMC516660.
    29. Von Korff M, Katon W, Rutter C, Ludman E, Simon G, Lin E, Bush T. Effect on disability outcomes of a depression relapse prevention program. Psychosom Med. 2003 Nov-Dec; 65(6):938-43. PMID: 14645770.
      View in: PubMed
    30. Von Korff M, Katon W, Unützer J, Wells K, Wagner EH. Improving depression care: barriers, solutions, and research needs. J Fam Pract. 2001 Jun; 50(6):E1. PMID: 11401751.
      View in: PubMed
    31. Von Korff M, Moore JC. Stepped care for back pain: activating approaches for primary care. Ann Intern Med. 2001 May 01; 134(9 Pt 2):911-7. PMID: 11346328.
      View in: PubMed
    32. Von Korff M, Tiemens B. Individualized stepped care of chronic illness. West J Med. 2000 Feb; 172(2):133-7. PMID: 10693379; PMCID: PMC1070776.
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