Alison M. Vargovich PhD

Alison Vargovich

Alison M. Vargovich
PhD

Clinical Assistant Professor

Department of Medicine

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences


Specialty/Research Focus

Behavioral Medicine

Contact Information
Erie County Medical Center
462 Grider St
DK Miller Bldg
Buffalo, NY 14215
Phone: (716) 898-5671
Fax: (716) 898-3040
alisonva@buffalo.edu


Patient Care

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Professional Summary:

As an assistant professor and licensed psychologist in the Department of Medicine, Division of Behavioral Medicine at the University at Buffalo, my work involves a combination of patient care, research, and outreach and education. I am a fellowship trained health psychologist specializing in chronic pain, my patient care focuses on utilizing psychosocial interventions to help patients better manage pain and improve their quality of life. Through this treatment, patients learn a variety of skills and tools to approach managing pain from a biopsychosocial perspective. While many of the skills and tools are similar across patients, each is applied in an individualized manner to help patients achieve their treatment goals.

Another facet of my work involves research to better understand the biobehavioral development and treatment of chronic pain. My research explores psychosocial factors associated with chronic pain and opioid risk, how to effectively educate medical students on chronic pain and physician-patient communication skills, and the efficacy of a community-based chronic pain self-management program. These topics allow me to generate a deeper understanding of chronic pain, while also improving patient care and guiding emerging providers in making pain management decisions for their patients.

Lastly, it is important to me to disseminate research through education and outreach. As such, I work within the community to assist healthcare professionals in better understanding and treating the psychosocial aspects of chronic pain and other conditions. Additionally, I am passionate about improving medical education on the biopsychosocial treatment of chronic pain, and have developed curriculum to address this need. I have presented at regional, national, and international conferences on the topics of chronic pain and overlapping opioid use/abuse, and will continue to work toward providing affordable and accessible evidence-based treatment for patients with chronic pain.

Education and Training:

  • Fellowship, Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program, Cleveland Clinic; Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program (2015)
  • Internship, Medical/Health Psychology Division, University of Florida at Gainesville/Shands Hospital (2014)
  • PhD, Clinical Psychology with Specialization in Health Psychology, West Virginia University (2014)
  • MS, Clinical Psychology with Specialization in Health Psychology, West Virginia University (2011)
  • BA, Psychology; Clinical and Counseling Psychology; Child, Family, and Communit, Canisius College, Summa Cum Laude (2009)

Employment:

  • Assistant Professor, Medicine, University at Buffalo (2018-present)
  • Clerkship Director, 3rd year Medical Students, Family Medicine, West Virginia University, Medicine (2016–2018)
  • Assistant Professor, Family Medicine, West Virginia University, School of Medicine (2015–2018)
  • Postdoctoral Pain Medicine Psychology Fellowship, Cleveland Clinic, Neurological Center for Pain (2014–2015)
  • Pre-Doctoral Internship, Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, University of Florida (2013–2014)
  • Psychology Extern, Family Medicine, West Virginia University, Medicine (2012–2013)
  • Psychology Extern, Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit, West Virginia University Hospital (2012–2013)
  • Graduate Assistant, Quin Curtis Center for Psychological Services, Department of Psychology: Anxiety & Mood Disorders Team and Anger Management Team, West Virginia University (2010–2013)
  • Psychology Extern, PsiMed, Inc; West Virginia Industrial Home for Youth (2011–2012)
  • Graduate Student Therapist, Ruby Memorial Hospital, Physician Office Center (2011–2012)
  • Research Clinician, The Connections program, Summit Educational Resources (2008)
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Awards and Honors:

  • Teaching Scholars Faculty Development Program (2016)
  • Academic Affairs Student Travel Awards (3) (2010)
  • Department of Psychology Student Travel Awards (3) (2010)
  • Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Student Travel Awards (3) (2010)
  • Psychology Student Research Fund (2010)
  • Donald L. Tollefson Annual Psychology Award, (2009)
  • Outstanding Psychology Student Award (2009)
  • Higher Education Research Fund (HERF) Award for Outstanding Applicant (2009)
  • Canisius Earning Excellence Program (CEEP) Grant (2008)
  • Alpha Sigma Nu National Honor Society of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (2008)
  • Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology (2007)
  • Rothfuss Scholarship Merit Award (2006)
  • Mary R. Koessler Scholarship, Merit Award (2005)
  • Community Foundation Scholarship, Merit Award (2005)
  • Dean’s Academic Scholarship, Merit Award (2005)

Research Expertise:

  • Research Expertise: Health psychology; Chronic pain; Psychological processes involved in pain perception, development of chronic pain, and health outcomes; Dissemination of behavioral sciences research to healthcare professionals; Health communication and the doctor-patient relationship

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • September 2017–January 2019
    A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Community-Based Chronic Pain Self-Management Program in West Virginia
    National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • December 2015–March 2017
    West Virginia Family Medicine Foundation Grant
    Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
    Role: Consultant
  • September 2015–September 2016
    Communication, Rural Track and Interprofessional Education Curricula
    US DHHS/HRSA Predoctoral Education Grant
    Role: Co-Investigator

Journal Articles:

Books and Book Chapters:

  • Vargovich A. Environmental, emotional, and cognitive determinants of dental pain. 2014.
  • Vargovich AM, McNeil, D, Ries, B, Turk, C. Anxiety and fear. 2012.

Abstracts:

  • Vargovich AM, Davin, S. A, Goforth, H, Scheman, J. The role of alexithymia in pain catastrophizing and functioning among chronic pain patients presenting to an interdisciplinary chronic pain program. Journal of Pain. 2015; 16(S4).
  • Vargovich AM, Sperry, J, Foley, K. P, McNeil, D. W. Predicting opioid prescribing: Influence of an expert opioid-risk evaluation. Journal of Pain. 2015; 16(S4).
  • Vargovich AM, Sperry, J, Foley, K. P, McNeil, D. W. Opioid abuse potential and pain related measures in chronic pain patients presenting to a primary care clinic. Journal of Pain. 2014; 15(S4).
  • Vargovich AM, Sperry, J., Foley, K. P.. Do opioid prescribing policies affect primary care clinic follow up visit rates?. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2013; 14(S4).
  • Vargovich AM, Randall, C. L, Quentin, L, Shulman, G, McNeil, D. W. Influences of anxiety sensitivity and posttraumatic stress symptomatology on pain responsivity. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2012; 43(S1).

Professional Memberships:

  • Society of Teachers of Family Medicine; member (2017–2018)
  • West Virginia Psychological Association; Member (2015–2018)
  • American Academy of Pain Medicine; member (2015–present)
  • Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers; Member (2015–present)
  • International Association for the Study of Pain; Member (2014–present)
  • American Pain Society; Member (2013–present)
  • American Psychological Association; Member (2007–present)

Presentations:

  • "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Evaluation & Treatment" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine Residency Didactics Series (2018)
  • "Autism Spectrum Disorder: Psychological Assessment & Treatment" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine Residency Didactics Series (2018)
  • "Crisis in Appalachia & Beyond: Chronic Pain & the Opioid Epidemic" SUNY University at Buffalo Department of Internal Medicine, Grand Rounds (2018)
  • "Integrated Primary Care Interventions" West Virginia University, Department of Psychology, Behavioral Medicine Graduate Course (2018)
  • "Introduction to Integrated Primary Care" West Virginia University, Department of Psychology, Behavioral Medicine Graduate Course (2018)
  • "Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evaluation & Treatment" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine Residency Didactics Series (2018)
  • "Difficult conversations: Training medical students to assess, educate, and treat the patient with chronic pain" Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Predoctoral Conference (2018)
  • "Drug diversion training and best practice prescribing of controlled substances" . 31st Annual José I. Ricard, MD Family Medicine & Sports Medicine Conference (2017)
  • "“Crazy or Not Crazy?”: Team Based Care in the Medical Setting" West Virginia University Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, Didactic Series (2017)
  • "Managing Chronic Pain & Substance Abuse in Primary Care" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine, PGY1 Orientation (2017)
  • "Wellness & Stress Management" West Virginia University School of Medicine, MS1 Orientation Bootcamp (2017)
  • "Difficult Conversations in the Inpatient Setting" West Virginia University, Department of Internal Medicine, Communication Workshop (2017)
  • "Wellness & Stress Management" West Virginia University School of Medicine, MS3 Orientation Bootcamp (2017)
  • "Alcohol use disorder: Evaluation & treatment" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine Residency Didactics Series (2017)
  • "Physician burnout and wellness strategies" West Virginia University, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty Development Series (2017)
  • "Psychological Screening in Patients with Chronic Pain" West Virginia University, ECHO Chronic Pain Didactics Series (2017)
  • "Changing the conversation: How to say “no” to chronic opioid therapy & “yes” to a biopsychosocial treatment plan" 2016 West Virginia University Spine Conference (2016)
  • "Drug diversion training and best practice prescribing of controlled substances" 30th Annual José I. Ricard, MD Family Medicine & Sports Medicine Conference (2016)
  • "Behavioral Health in Primary Care" West Virginia University Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, Didactic Series (2016)
  • "Non-malignant chronic pain management" 42nd Annual Hal Wanger Family Medicine Conference (2016)
  • "Crisis in Appalachia: Chronic Pain and the Opioid Epidemic" Mayo Clinic, Department of Psychiatry & Psychology, Chair’s Presentation (2016)
  • "Opioid prescribing in the US and West Virginia" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine, PGY1 Orientation (2016)
  • "Managing Chronic Pain in Primary Care" Invited lecture at Monongahela Valley Association of Health Centers as part of the West Virginia Family Medicine Foundation/Benedum Grant (2016)
  • "Department Initiative Aimed to Better Execute T2dm Education and Self-management" 2016 Diabetes Symposium & Workshop: Bridging the Gap (2016)
  • "Introduction to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine Residency Didactics Series (2016)
  • "How to Discuss Tapering with Your Patients" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine Residency Didactics Series (2016)
  • "Managing Chronic Pain in Primary Care" Invited lecture at E.A. Hawse Healthcare Center as part of the West Virginia Family Medicine Foundation/Benedum Grant (2016)
  • "Primary Care Psychology" West Virginia University, Department of Psychology, Behavioral Medicine Course (2016)
  • "Psychological Issues in the Management of Chronic Pain" West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine Residency Didactics Series (2016)
  • "Predicting opioid prescribing: Influence of an expert opioid-risk evaluation" American Pain Society’s 34th Annual Scientific Meeting, Data Blitz Symposium (2015)
  • "The Impact of Psychological Evaluation on Opioid Prescribing Decisions in Primary Care" Invited lecture at the Cleveland Clinic Neurological Center for Pain Didactic Series (2015)
  • "Cognitive Behavioral Assessment and Therapy for Chronic Pain" Invited lecture at the Anesthesiology Education Day, Shands Hospital at the University of Florida (2014)
  • "Snort Your Pain Killers to Avoid a Tummy Ache: Great advice or potential abuse?" West Virginia UniversityDepartment of Psychology Clinical Case Conference (2013)
  • "You Dumb S---: How I Learned to Handle My Anger" West Virginia University Department of Psychology Clinical Case Conference (2010)
  • "Introduction to Motivational Interviewing: Working in Primary Care" Workshop presented to the West Virginia Primary Care Association (2009)
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Contact Information

Erie County Medical Center
462 Grider St
DK Miller Bldg
Buffalo, NY 14215
Phone: (716) 898-5671
Fax: (716) 898-3040
alisonva@buffalo.edu

Looking for a doctor? This faculty member is affiliated with UBMD, the group comprised of practicing physicians who are also professors in the UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

View this faculty on UBMD