Rabbitts Lab

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 and resilience 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 service, currently serving on the scientific program committee for the International Symposium of Pediatric Pain, and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Pain, and Pediatric Anesthesia. She is also passionate about mentoring students and early career faculty, serving as a mentor for the Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Initiative of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia, and the University of Washington Innovations in Pain Research Summer Program.

Funded Research Projects

Dr. Rabbitts’ current research projects include:

Surgery Pal 

Effectiveness of an mHealth psychosocial intervention to prevent transition from acute to chronic postsurgical pain in adolescents

This HEAL Comparative Effectiveness Trial will address the gap in non-pharmacological treatments in perioperative care of adolescents undergoing major musculoskeletal surgery. We will test our psychosocial intervention targeting psychosocial risk factors and teaching pain self-management strategies in 500 adolescents at 15 pediatric spine centers across the nation. If effective, this scalable, low cost intervention will allow broad implementation to reduce opioid exposure and potential for addiction, and prevent chronic postsurgical pain in youth undergoing major musculoskeletal surgery.

  • PIs: Jennifer A. Rabbitts (contact), Tonya Palermo
  • Grant: UG3HD102038 (NIH/NICHD and HEAL Initiative)
  • Award Cycle: 9/30/2019 – 8/31/2024 

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.