for people ages 18-69 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Steven Batki, MDDavid Pennington, PhD
Headshot of Steven Batki
Steven Batki
Headshot of David Pennington
David Pennington



To investigate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying opioid approach bias during a pilot RCT of opioid approach bias modification. The investigators are combining novel ultra-high field MRI technology with the promising treatment of modifying cognitive bias away from detrimental prescription drug use will generate novel neural data and potentially yield a new therapeutic tool to reduce problematic opioid use.

Official Title

The Neural Basis of Approach Bias Modification in Opioid Users With Chronic Pain


The proposed study is a pilot prospective, parallel groups, randomized, double blind, sham training-controlled, 6-session (over 2 weeks) clinical trial of opioid approach bias modification (OABM) in 20 male and female veterans with chronic pain at high risk for opioid-related adverse events at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System, between ages 18-69. The study consists of screening, 2-week cognitive training, Week-3 post-assessment. Assessment of the neurobiological mechanisms of opioid approach bias will be administered at baseline and Week-3.


Opioid Use, Chronic Pain, opioid, approach bias, Opioid Analgesics, opioid approach bias modification, opioid approach bias training


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18-69

  • Male and female veterans eligible for VA services
  • Ages 18-69
  • Chronic pain (current pain lasting ≥ 90 days)
  • Prescribed chronic opioids (≥ 90 days in past year)
  • High risk for opioid-related averse outcomes (≥ 20mg morphine equivalent daily dose).

You CAN'T join if...

  • Psychotic, bipolar disorders or other psychiatric disorders judged to be unstable by the PI
  • Current or past history of the following: intrinsic cerebral tumors, cerebrovascular accident/disease, brain aneurysm, arteriovenous malformations, surgical implantation of neurostimulators or cardiac pacemakers, demyelinating and neurodegenerative diseases, penetrating traumatic brain injury, and any other MRI contraindications.
  • No female participant will be pregnant or actively attempting to conceive to prevent any unnecessary exposure to high magnetic fields or radio frequency energy to the unborn child.
  • Concurrent participation in a treatment study
  • Moderately Severe/Severe withdrawal from opioids based on a score of 25 or more on the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS)


  • VA Medical Center San Francisco accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94121 United States

Lead Scientists at UCSF

  • Steven Batki, MD
    Steven L. Batki, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry, in Residence, at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and Chief of the Substance Abuse Programs and Director of the Addiction Psychiatry Research Program at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC), where he also directs the UCSF Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship Program.
  • David Pennington, PhD
    Associate Professor, Psychiatry, School of Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 39 research publications


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Expecting 20 study participants
Last Updated