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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 24-33

Mobile applications for chronic pain management: An analysis of pain apps available in the app store

1 Department of Anaesthesiology, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
2 Department of Anaesthesia, Teerthanker Mahaveer Medical College, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Pallavi Ahluwalia
Department of Anaesthesia, Teerthanker Mahaveer Medical College, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijpn.ijpn_148_20

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Background: There has been considerable interest in mobile and tablet technology in the field of health care. This interest has brought the area of mobile health apps, described as providing health care and health-related services through communications devices, into-sharp focus. This study aimed to assess the status of contemporary apps targeted at chronic pain assessment and management with a particular focus on patient-centered approach, criterion for pain assessment, medication assessment, targeted system, and pain management/guidance. Methodology: We searched for pain apps specific for chronic pain on the App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices. Each app store was searched using terms related to “pain,” “chronic pain,” “pain scale,” and “pain management.” Various parameters such as the name of the app, availability in operating systems (iOS or Android), download cost, creation dates, date of latest update, language, type of pathology, user rating, number of downloads, reviews, type of target population, the objective of the app and target population were explored. To explore the downloaded apps, an Excel® tool was designed for data extraction. Observations: Two hundred and fifty-four numbers of apps were identified after excluding duplicates. Forty-seven apps were included in the study that had a rating of above 4 in Google play store for further analysis. Eight out of 47 apps only did extensive pain assessment, and pain rating score was available in 14 apps. Most of the apps targeted exercise as a primary modality of management, and provided knowledge about the disease process. Few apps were based on the patients' hospital-based management and very few apps targeted yoga, integrative therapy, and trigger point as the primary modalities of management. 75% of apps targeted general pain, and only 25% were specific to an organ system. Majority of the apps were neither designed nor edited by licensed health-care providers, and there was little direct involvement by health-care professionals. Conclusion: The use of mobile devices can offer many advantages and opportunities for enhancing medical care. At present, due to the lack of evidence supporting their use, caution should be taken in the use of smartphones apps. These applications should also be assessed and regularly analyzed, and integrated with pain assessment and pain management and incorporate various integrative therapies based on available recommendations.

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