Dr Hemakumar Devan
Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Health, Activity & Rehabilitation Research, University of Otago, Wellington, NZ
Devan, H., Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research (CHARR), School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Wellington, NZ
Perry, M.A., Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research (CHARR), School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Wellington, NZ
Farmery, D., Otago Medical School, University of Otago, Wellington, NZ
Grainger, R., Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington, NZ
Introduction: Persistent non-cancer pain affects one in five New Zealanders. Online resources such as smartphone applications (apps) and websites are a potential solution for fostering self-management support in people with persistent pain.
Aims: To evaluate the contents of online resources (apps and websites) for people with persistent pain facilitating self-management support.
Methods: A systematic search was performed in the New Zealand App Store and Google Play Store and major search engines Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Online resources were included if they provided information on pain management strategies and were available in English. The contents were evaluated using an a priori 14-item self-management support (SMS-14) checklist. The 23-item Mobile Apps Rating Scale (MARS) and HONcode certification was used to appraise app and website quality respectively.
Results: Nineteen apps and twenty-seven websites met inclusion criteria. Overall, the included apps and websites met a median of 4 (range 1-8) and 9 (range 1-13) of the SMS-14 checklist. For both apps and websites, self-monitoring of symptoms and self-tailoring of strategies were frequently featured functions, while few had features facilitating social support and communicating with clinicians. Only one website (ACI Pain Management Network) provided information tailored to cultural needs of the user. The app quality mean scores using MARS ranged from 2.7 to 4.5 (out of 5.0). HONcode certification was present in six of the 27 websites. Only two apps and two websites underwent scientific evaluation supporting their clinical efficacy.
Conclusions: Although pain management apps and websites provide information to develop self-efficacy, cultural tailoring of contents is poorly met. While few apps and websites were validated to show improved health outcomes, none were tested in people with persistent pain. Both users and clinicians have to be aware of such limitations and make informed choices in using and recommending online resources as a self-management tool.