Publication date: May 30, 2019
Pain is the most common and distressing symptom for patients in all clinical settings. The dearth of health informatics tools to support acute and chronic pain management may be contributing to the chronic pain and opioid abuse crises. The purpose of this study is to qualitatively evaluate the content and functionality of mobile pain management apps.
The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store were searched to identify pain management apps. The inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) that apps include a pain diary function allowing users to record pain episodes, (2) are available in either Apple App Store or Google Play Store, and (3) are available in the English language. We excluded apps if they were limited to only specific forms of pain or specific diseases.
A total of 36 apps met the inclusion criteria. Most of the apps served as pain diary tools to record the key characteristics of pain. The pain diary features of the apps were grouped into nine categories: the recordings of pain intensity, pain location, pain quality, pain’s impacts on daily life, other features of pain, other related symptoms, medication, patients’ habits and basic information, and other miscellaneous functions. The apps displayed various problems in use. The problem of not involving healthcare professionals in app development has not been resolved. Approximately 31% of apps including a pain diary function engaged clinicians in app development. Only 19% involved end-users in development and then only in an ad-hoc way. Only one third of the apps supported the cross-platforms, none of the apps supported clinician access to graphical pain data visualization, none secured HIPAA compliance, and none endorsed the PEG tool for primary care physicians’ chronic pain management.
Most of the 36 pain management apps demonstrated various problems including user interface and security. Many apps lacked clinician and end-user involvement in app development impacting the clinical utility of these apps. We could not find any pain apps suitable for clinical usage despite high demand from clinicians due to the US opioid crisis.
Open Access PDF
Zhao, P., , Yoo, Lancey, R., and Varghese, E. Mobile applications for pain management: an app analysis for clinical usage. 03562. 2019 BMC Med Inform Decis Mak (19):1.
- Mobile-Based Contingency Management to Promote Daily Self-monitoring in Primary Care Patients
- CHIME Opioid Task Force Playbook