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Benefits of Mobile Apps in Pain Management: Systematic Review


Thurnheer, Simon E; Gravestock, Isaac; Pichierri, Giuseppe; Steurer, Johann; Burgstaller, Jakob M (2018). Benefits of Mobile Apps in Pain Management: Systematic Review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(10):e11231.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Pain is a common condition with a significant physical, psychosocial, and economic impact. Due to enormous progress in mobile device technology as well as the increase in smartphone ownership in the general population, mobile apps can be used to monitor patients with pain and support them in pain management. OBJECTIVE The aim of this review was to assess the efficacy of smartphone or computer tablet apps in the management of patients with pain. METHODS In December 2017, a literature search was performed in the following databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PsycINFO. In addition, a bibliography search was conducted. We included studies with at least 20 participants per arm that evaluated the effects of apps on smartphones or computer tablets on improvement in pain. RESULTS A total of 15 studies with 1962 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 4 studies examined the effect of mobile apps on pain management in an in-clinic setting and 11 in an out-clinic setting. The majority of the original studies reported beneficial effects of the use of a pain app. Severity of pain decreased in most studies where patients were using an app compared with patients not using an app. Other outcomes, such as worst pain or quality of life showed improvements in patients using an app. Due to heterogeneity between the original studies-patient characteristics, app content, and study setting-a synthesis of the results by statistical methods was not performed. CONCLUSIONS Apps for pain management may be beneficial for patients, particularly in an out-clinic setting. Studies have shown that pain apps are workable and well liked by patients and health care professionals. There is no doubt that in the near future, mobile technologies will develop further. Medicine could profit from this development as indicated by our results, but there is a need for more scientific inputs. It is desirable to know which elements of apps or additional devices and tools may improve usability and help patients in pain management.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Pain is a common condition with a significant physical, psychosocial, and economic impact. Due to enormous progress in mobile device technology as well as the increase in smartphone ownership in the general population, mobile apps can be used to monitor patients with pain and support them in pain management. OBJECTIVE The aim of this review was to assess the efficacy of smartphone or computer tablet apps in the management of patients with pain. METHODS In December 2017, a literature search was performed in the following databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PsycINFO. In addition, a bibliography search was conducted. We included studies with at least 20 participants per arm that evaluated the effects of apps on smartphones or computer tablets on improvement in pain. RESULTS A total of 15 studies with 1962 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 4 studies examined the effect of mobile apps on pain management in an in-clinic setting and 11 in an out-clinic setting. The majority of the original studies reported beneficial effects of the use of a pain app. Severity of pain decreased in most studies where patients were using an app compared with patients not using an app. Other outcomes, such as worst pain or quality of life showed improvements in patients using an app. Due to heterogeneity between the original studies-patient characteristics, app content, and study setting-a synthesis of the results by statistical methods was not performed. CONCLUSIONS Apps for pain management may be beneficial for patients, particularly in an out-clinic setting. Studies have shown that pain apps are workable and well liked by patients and health care professionals. There is no doubt that in the near future, mobile technologies will develop further. Medicine could profit from this development as indicated by our results, but there is a need for more scientific inputs. It is desirable to know which elements of apps or additional devices and tools may improve usability and help patients in pain management.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic and Policlinic for Internal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:mobile application; pain; pain management; smartphone; cell phone; telemedicine; review
Language:English
Date:22 October 2018
Deposited On:01 Nov 2018 09:52
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:50
Publisher:JMIR Publications
ISSN:2291-5222
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.2196/11231
PubMed ID:30348633

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