Enhancing recovery, reducing pain, and improving the quality of life for children and adolescents undergoing surgery

Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts’ research program focuses on long-term pain and health outcomes in children and adolescents undergoing surgery. Her research is devoted to understanding and preventing chronic postsurgical pain, a disabling condition affecting 20% youth undergoing major surgery. Her current research studies examine the role of biopsychosocial factors including child psychosocial factors, parental/family factors, and psychophysical processes in acute to chronic pain transition, and efficacy of treatments for secondary prevention. Research methods include longitudinal studies, multi-method research, daily monitoring, quantitative sensory testing, and clinical trials.

About Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts

Jennifer RabbittsDr. Jennifer Rabbitts is an associate professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She practices as a pediatric anesthesiologist and pain physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her NIH-funded research program focuses on assessing and improving pain and health outcomes after pediatric surgery. She is specifically interested in bio-psychosocial risk factors for delayed recovery, mechanisms underlying acute to chronic pain transition and treatments to enhance recovery and improve long-term pain and health outcomes in adolescents undergoing major surgery. 

Rabbitts is active in the American Pain Society, currently serving as a director-at-large on the board of directors, and as currently serving as the chair of the Pain in Infants, Children and Adolescents Shared Interest Group. She serves on the scientific program committees for the American Pain Society and the International Symposium of Pediatric Pain, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Pain.

Funded Research Projects

Dr. Rabbitts’ current research projects include:

The STAR Study (Surgery in Teens: Assessing Recovery)

Mechanisms of transition from acute to chronic pain in youth undergoing musculoskeletal surgery

The aims of this study are to develop acute recovery indices associated with higher rates of chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP) and identify the psychophysical and psychosocial mechanisms that underlie the transition from acute to chronic pain after major pediatric surgery. This study is expected to identify modifiable factors underlying the transition from acute to chronic postsurgical pain, to reduce exposure to opioids and decrease the overall incidence of CPSP.

  • PI: Jennifer A. Rabbitts
  • Grant: R01AR073780 (NIH/NIAMS)
  • Award Cycle: July 12, 2018 to June 30, 2023

The MAPS Study (Monitoring Activity, Pain and Sleep After Surgery)

Pain and health-related quality of life in children after surgery

The objective of this study is to document longitudinal trajectories of pain and health-related quality of life in children following surgery, and to identify individual differences that place children at risk for both acute and chronic postsurgical pain and deteriorations in HRQOL.

  • PI: Jennifer A. Rabbitts
  • Grant: K23 HD078239 (NIH/NICHD)
  • Cycle: Aug. 24, 2014 to June 30, 2019

Preparation and Training for Healthy Surgery 

This technology-based perioperative program aims to improve psychosocial functioning and teach pain self-management strategies, with the goal of reducing opioid use and preventing chronic pain following surgery.

  • PI: Jennifer A. Rabbitts
  • Grants: American Pain Society Future Leaders Grant Award; and Scan Design Innovations in Pain Research Grant

Levinson Emerging Scholars Award

The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program supports talented and highly motivated University of Washington students who want to pursue creative and advanced bioscience and related research. This award is supporting Meena Meyyappan’s work in Dr. Rabbitts’ research program.