Karen Seal, MD

Core Investigator
+1 415 221-4810 ext. 4852

Dr. Karen Seal is a Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She is based at the San Francisco VA Health Care System (SFVAHCS) where she is the Director of the Integrated Care Clinic for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and Director of the Integrated Pain Team (IPT) Clinic. In these roles and as a practicing primary care internist and health services researcher, she has dedicated her career to developing and testing novel interventions to address comorbid mental and physical health problems, including chronic pain and opioid misuse in the context of PTSD and TBI among veterans. Dr. Seal serves as Chair of the SFVAHCS Integrative Health Advisory Committee to promote the development of Complimentary and Integrative Health (CIH) services for veteran patients and staff. In this capacity, Dr. Seal and her colleagues have been building Integrative Health capacity at SFVAHCS which includes system-wide training in VA Whole Health personalized health planning and coaching and mind body skills. She also actively mentors trainees, provides support for their research interests and seeks to involve them in one or more of the funded Research Projects listed below:
• Whole Health Pain Team for Chronic Pain (Funded by NIH, PI). This is a large pragmatic trial across 4 VA sites to develop the components of a Whole Health Team approach to chronic pain management in veterans and then test this in an RCT against a Usual primary care approach.
• COACH (Funded by VA HSR&D, PI): A multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Northern California and Louisiana to test telephone motivational coaching to enhance engagement in mental health treatment among rural veterans with untreated mental health concerns.
• OPTI (Funded by NIH, PI): A pilot RCT based at the San Francisco VA to decrease reliance on prescription opioids among veterans with chronic pain and higher risk opioid use.
• Pain Quality Improvement (QI) Research (Funded by VA HSR&D): A multi-faceted QI study of novel approaches to pain management based out of the San Francisco VA Health Care System, with a focus on evaluating the SFVAHCS Integrated Pain Team Clinic and Whole Health Coaching.
• VOICE: (Funded by PCORI, Co-PI): A pragmatic effectiveness trial across 9 VA sites of an integrated pain team approach (modeled after the SFVAHCS Integrated Pain Team Clinic) vs. telephone collaborative management to improve pain and decrease opioid use among veterans.
• Virtual Worlds Training in PTSD for Primary Care Providers (Funded by DoD, PI): This 4-year study involves first building a novel Virtual Worlds training for providers working in primary care settings on PTSD assessment and management and then conducting an RCT to compare it to an online training.