The HERO TRaILs project (Health Extension Rural Offices: Translating Research Into Localities) aims to accelerate the dissemination of evidence based practices for chronic pain management to health care providers in southwest New Mexico.  The program is a partnership between the National Center for Frontier Communities (staffed by the Southwest Center for Health Innovation – CHI), Hidalgo Medical Services and the University of New Mexico, among others. SWCHI staff delivers unbiased information to health care providers to facilitate improved patient care.


People in rural counties are nearly twice as likely to overdose on prescription painkillers as people in big cities in the United States, and New Mexico has the highest death rate from prescription opioids in the US. The treatment of chronic noncancer pain is an important and frustrating problem for primary care providers.opioid map There are established guidelines on treating chronic noncancer pain and how to approach the prescribing process for opioid medications, but no user-friendly, concise algorithm or evidence-based toolkit to use as an everyday practice guide.

Evidence-based medicine has evolved as a tool for improving the quality and delivery of health care, but non-evidence-based medical care is still common. Established guidelines and proven, evidence-based information can take up to 17 years before being adopted into clinical practice. Methods for communicating evidence-based information into rural practices have not been evaluated.

In rural, culturally diverse New Mexico, dissemination techniques for evidence-based information would be more effective if products used bidirectional, face-to-face interaction and considered clinic and community context.

The Project

The goal of HERO TRaILs is to understand how to best disseminate evidence-based information for managing chronic noncancer pain to primary care providers of vulnerable, underserved, multiethnic populations. Research shows that traditional evidence-based dissemination is most effective in rural settings if there is a partnership between the community, rural providers, and the academic institution.communitypartners

The project will be implemented in two Southern New Mexico Federally Qualified Health Center clinic systems: Hidalgo Medical Services and Ben Archer Health Centers.

Project partners will include: The UNM Health Extension Rural Offices (HERO) program through the Office for Community Health, The UNM Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC), The Research Involving Outpatient Settings Network (RIOS Net), The NM Primary Care Association, The National Center for Frontier Communities, The New Mexico Department of Health, The NM Board of Pharmacy, HealthInsight NM, and Molina Health Care.


The project team will develop an evidence-based toolkit for treating chronic noncancer pain as a resource for primary care providers. Focus groups, interviews, workshops and online surveys will be conducted at both clinic systems. Practice staff and clinicians will be invited to participate in practice feedback workshops to help evaluate how the intervention fits into the clinic system and determine its effectiveness.

Project Outcomes

By the end of the project, the HERO TRaILs team will:

  • Create an infrastructure to distribute evidence-based information to rural practices.
  • Develop a toolkit that rural clinicians can apply to their treatment and care of patients suffering from chronic noncancer pain.
  • Create a manual on how to best distribute evidence-based information to rural practices that can be adapted as a guide to improve treatment and services related to many illnesses.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about this project or would like more information, please contact Danelle Callan, MA, Project Manager at dcallan@salud.unm.edu or 505-272-3448. The Principal Investigator for this project is Robert Rhyne, MD and he can be reached at: rrhyne@salud.unm.edu.