Quality and Usability of Arthritic Pain Self-Management Apps for Older Adults: A Systematic Review.

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Abstract

Objective

To appraise the quality and usability of currently available pain applications that could be used by community-dwelling older adults to self-manage their arthritic pain.

Methods

A systematic review. Searches were conducted in App Store and Google Play to identify pain self-management apps relevant to arthritic pain management. English language pain management apps providing pain assessment and documentation function and pain management education were considered for inclusion. A quality evaluation audit tool based on the Stanford Arthritis Self-Management Program was developed a priori to evaluate app content quality. The usability of included apps was assessed using an established usability evaluation tool.

Results

Out of the 373 apps that were identified, four met the inclusion criteria. The included apps all included a pain assessment and documentation function and instructions on medication use, communication with health professionals, cognitive behavioral therapy-based pain management, and physical exercise. Management of mood, depression, anxiety, and sleep were featured in most apps (N = 3). Three-quarters (N = 3) of the apps fell below the acceptable moderate usability score (≥3), while one app obtained a moderate score (3.2).

Conclusions

Few of the currently available pain apps offer a comprehensive pain self-management approach incorporating evidence-based strategies in accordance with the Stanford Arthritis Self-Management Program. The moderate-level usability across the included apps indicates a need to consider the usability needs of the older population in future pain self-management app development endeavors.

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