Robert R. Edwards, PhD

Dr. Edwards is an Associate Professor of Anesthesia and a licensed clinical psychologist in the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, completing a PhD in Medical Psychology and a Master’s in Public Health. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Pain Psychology at Johns Hopkins, before joining the faculty in Psychiatry there. He moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2008.

Dr. Edwards functions in a clinical capacity as a psychologist at the BWH Pain Management Center, where his responsibilities include assessment and treatment of chronic pain patients referred to the Pain Center. He screens for candidacy for opioid therapy and implantable devices and offers behavioral medicine services such as biofeedback and CBT for pain management. He functions as a research mentor to junior faculty members in several Departments and institutions, he has published numerous scientific articles, reviews, and book chapters on pain, and he serves on the editorial boards of several pain and psychology journals. He has leadership positions in the American Pain Society (APS) and the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).

Dr. Edwards is an NIH-funded clinical researcher whose work focuses on biobehavioral aspects of acute and chronic pain. Specifically, he studies individual differences in pain responses, and the neurobiological mechanisms by which psychosocial processes shape those individual differences. Some of his current NIH-funded work focuses on the impact of pain-related catastrophizing on neuroendocrine and inflammatory responses to pain, as well as individual differences in central nervous system pain processing, and their implications for long-term pain-related outcomes.

Dr. Edwards is presently involved in several post-operative pain studies that attempt to characterize risk and protective factors that influence the trajectory of long-term pain after surgery. He is also involved in several studies that use functional neuroimaging techniques to assess the neurobiology of pain-related thoughts and emotions. In addition, his research group is working in the area of predicting and preventing misuse of opioids by patients with persistent pain. Psychosocial processes such as catastrophizing and negative affect are strongly associated with opioid misuse, and cognitive-behavioral interventions appear to be effective in targeting these factors and enhancing compliance with recommended medication regimens. Finally, Dr. Edwards’ research group is conducting multiple randomized, controlled trials of non-pharmacologic treatments for patients with chronic pain.

Recent Publications

Sex and Race Differences in Pain Sensitization among Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain.
Meints SM, Wang V, Edwards RR.
J Pain. 2018 Jul 17.
PMID: 30025944

The Association Between Daily Physical Activity and Pain Among Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis: The Moderating Role of Pain Catastrophizing.
Lazaridou A, Martel MO, Cornelius M, Franceschelli O, Campbell C, Smith M, Haythornthwaite JA, Wright JR, Edwards RR.
Pain Med. 2018 Jul 16.
PMID: 30016486

Transition to chronic pain: opportunities for novel therapeutics.
Price TJ, Basbaum AI, Bresnahan J, Chambers JF, De Koninck Y, Edwards RR, Ji RR, Katz J, Kavelaars A, Levine JD, Porter L, Schechter N, Sluka KA, Terman GW, Wager TD, Yaksh TL, Dworkin RH.
Nat Rev Neurosci. 2018 May 15.
PMID: 29765159

Side effects can enhance treatment response through expectancy effects: an experimental analgesic randomized controlled trial.
Berna C, Kirsch I, Zion SR, Lee YC, Jensen KB, Sadler P, Kaptchuk TJ, Edwards RR.
Pain. 2017 Jun;158(6):1014-1020.
PMID: 28178072

The Role of Psychosocial Processes in the Development and Maintenance of Chronic Pain.
Edwards RR, Dworkin RH, Sullivan MD, Turk DC, Wasan AD.
J Pain. 2016 Sep;17(9 Suppl):T70-92.
PMID: 27586832

Effects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) on Brain Connectivity Supporting Catastrophizing in Fibromyalgia.
Lazaridou A, Kim J, Cahalan CM, Loggia ML, Franceschelli O, Berna C, Schur P, Napadow V, Edwards RR.
Clin J Pain. 2017 Mar;33(3):215-221.
PMID: 27518491

Variability in conditioned pain modulation predicts response to NSAID treatment in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Edwards RR, Dolman AJ, Martel MO, Finan PH, Lazaridou A, Cornelius M, Wasan AD.
BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016 Jul 13;17:284.
PMID: 27412526