Smiling mature woman.

Developing new and better ways to manage adverse symptoms is vital to improving quality of life for those with illness. This webpage provides a broad overview of NINR’s activities in symptom management research, highlighting recent program initiatives and research findings. For more information on NINR symptom management, NINR staff contacts are provided as well as links to other resources.


Millions of Americans suffer from adverse symptoms such as fatigue, pain, insomnia, or chronic wounds, that can inhibit their ability to lead normal lives. Often, these symptoms are associated with a chronic condition, such as insomnia experienced by those living with chronic heart failure, or they may be treatment-related, as in the case of cancer patients experiencing pain associated with chemotherapy.

Throughout its twenty-five year history, NINR has supported research on new and better ways to manage the symptoms of illness. Symptom management research supported by NINR focuses on understanding the biological and behavioral aspects of symptoms such as pain and fatigue, with the goal of developing new knowledge and new strategies for improving patient health and quality of life. The Institute supports research at universities, hospitals, and other institutions across the Nation on a broad range of topics related to symptom management. In addition, NINR maintains a robust intramural research program on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland dedicated to improving the understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of a range of symptoms, their effect on patients, and the biological and behavioral bases for how patients respond to interventions.

NINR Initiatives in Symptom Management Research

NINR issues calls for applications in a number of specific research areas related to symptom management. The Institute also co-sponsors research initiatives in symptom management led by other NIH Institutes and Centers. Selected initiatives are listed below. A complete list of NINR funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) can be found  here.

Announcement Number Release Date Expiration Date Title
12/9/201001/8/2014Chronic Illness Self-Management in Children and Adolescents (R01, R03, R21)
12/9/201001/8/2014Focal Cognitive Deficits in CNS Disorders (R01, R03, R21)
10/05/200901/08/2013Mechanisms, Models, Measurement, and Management in Pain Research (R01, R21, and R03)

NINR Research Highlights in Symptom Management

Listed below are highlights of recent research accomplishments in symptom management from the community of NINR-supported scientists across the U.S. Links to PubMed citations are provided for each publication.

A journal article illustration depicting genetic factors for bone pain

Understanding and Managing Pain

Management of Pain:

  • The Palliative Performance Scale Provides Accurate Planning Timelines in End-of-Life Settings in Diverse Communities (Link)
  • Uncovering a Novel Mechanism by Which COX-inhibitors May Relieve Pain (Link)
  • Individualized Educational Programs may Reduce Patient-Related Barriers to Effective Pain Management (Link)

Biology of Pain:

  • Expression of Genes that Regulate Inflammation is Correlated to Clinical Pain (Link)
  • Genome-wide Screen Identifies Drug-induced Regulation of the Gene Giant Axonal Neuropathy (GAN) in a Mouse Model (Link)
  • Understanding the Biological Underpinnings of Stress’s Influence on Pain (Link)

Illustration depicting an inflammation cascade. A scalpel makes an incision at a cut marked "injury," monocytes and neutrophils are shown interacting with receptors on a nerve marked "pain."

Wound Care

  • Using Genetic “Bar Codes” to Improve the Treatment of Wounds (Link)
  • Improving Knowledge of Molecular Signaling in Non-healing Venous Ulcers (Link)

Chronic Disease Management

  • A Home-Based Nurse-Coached Intervention Improves Dyspnea in Heart Failure Patients (Link)
  • Speed-of-Processing Cognitive Intervention Reduces Risk of Depressive Symptoms in Community-dwelling Elderly (Link)
  • Antidepressant Treatment Improves Insulin Resistance for Adults with Co-occurring Type 2 Diabetes and Depression (Link)

Sleep and Fatigue

  • Behavioral Sleep Therapy Program Improves Perceived Sleep Quality in Cancer Patients (Link)
  • Neuroimaging Reveals Individual Differences in Structural Pathways and Health Consequences of Sleep Deprivation (Link)
  • Exercise Reduces Sleep Disturbances in Older Breast Cancer Patients (Link)

Self-Management of Chronic Disease

  • Group-based Interventions May Improve Coping Skills in School-age Children with Type 1 Diabetes (Link)
  • Researchers Define an Evidence-based Medication Adherence Level for Heart Failure Patients (Link)
  • Trained Health Educators in Rural Areas Increase Children’s Self-Management of Asthma (Link)

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Enhance Wound-Healing Non-invasively (Link)
  • Mindfulness Yoga Reduces Distress and Improves Pregnancy Outcomes (Link)

NINR Contacts for Information on Symptom Management Research

For Researchers Interested in Applying for Support of Symptom Management Research and Training:

Dr. Susan Marden – Science/Research Opportunities

Dr. David Banks – Training and Fellowship Opportunities (Individual)

Dr. Donna Jo McCloskey – Training and Fellowship Opportunities (Institutional/T32)

For All Other Inquiries:
NINR Office of Science Policy and Public Liaison   301-496-0207

Links to Other Resources

NINR Intramural Research Program:

NINR Publication “Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Serious Illness”:

NIH Pain Consortium:

NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research:

National Center on Sleep Disorders Research:

NIH Roadmap – Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS):

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA):

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):