Jenna McAfee, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Anesthesiology
Clinical Psychologist, Anesthesiology
Associate Director, Clinical Pain Research


Jenna Goesling is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan. Her interests include understanding the behavioral and psychological factors that impact chronic pain, promoting health behavior change (e.g., smoking cessation), and developing individualized interventions specific to opioid use.

Areas of Interest

  • Opioid cessation: Pursue a program of research that addresses opioid cessation in patients with chronic pain who are not deriving benefit from this class of drugs (i.e., those in whom the risks of these drugs exceed the benefits). Therapeutic opioid addiction in chronic pain patients involves different processes, and likely different treatment solutions, than recreational abuse of opioids or other “true” addictions. A better understanding of the unique underlying beliefs and barriers that specifically contribute to continued opioid use would be invaluable. Future goal is to obtain an NIH K23 award and develop an opioid cessation intervention that targets the factors that contribute to long-term opioid use and gives patients alternative skills for coping with pain in order to enhance motivation and self-efficacy to taper off opioids.
  • Smoking and chronic pain: Clinical research on the association between smoking and chronic pain. Current studies have focused on cross-sectional analyses of smokers, considering the role of psychological factors as mediators to explain the association between smoking and pain. Future directions include qualitative sensory pain testing in nicotine deprived and non-deprived smokers and longitudinal studies focused on the impact of smoking on treatment outcomes.
  • Multidisciplinary treatment for chronic pain: Future goals are to initiate a needs assessment study at the Back and Pain clinic to determine the current standard of care for assessing and treating patients with psychological comorbidity and identify areas where additional psychological interventions are needed.
  • Cognitive behavioral interventions: Incorporate CBT interventions that target clinically meaningful behavior change (e.g., weight loss) and psychological factors (e.g., depression) that may impact pain management, outcomes of procedures, and overall functional status. Long-term goals are to design randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of interventions that address behavior change and/or treatment of comorbid psychopathology.
  • Research design in a medical setting: Emphasis on research design and statistical models that identify underlying mechanisms that influence treatment outcomes. From a methodological standpoint, testing mediation and moderation allows us to conduct analyses that go beyond answering the question “does the intervention work?” Investigating the causal pathways by which one variable brings about change in another (mediation) and uncovering differing effects from a particularly intervention on a unique populations (moderation) is critical in advancing both research and practice.

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