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Mobile App Data Provided for Chronic Pain Study

App home screen

Manage My Pain app home screen (Google Play)

21 May 2015. Data collected by a mobile app designed to help individuals manage their pain are being provided to a research lab at York University to reveal patterns in painful experiences by the app’s users. York’s Human Pain Mechanisms Lab in Toronto, Ontario, Canada will analyze data provided by the app Manage My Pain, developed by ManagingLife Inc., also in Toronto. Financial and intellectual property details of their agreement were not disclosed.

Manage My Pain is designed to capture real-time experiences of individuals with chronic pain in a running diary that physicians can use to monitor their patients’ conditions, as well as provide people suffering from chronic pain with feedback on their progress. The company says the app, written only for Android devices, helps people cope with fibromyalgia — a condition causing muscle pain, fatigue, and tender pressure points — migraines, arthritis, and back pain.

ManagingLife offers the app in a free Lite version and Pro version costing $3.99 that provides an ability to view more than 10 records and background synchronizing of data to the cloud. Google Play says the Lite version has between 50,000 and 100,000 installations, while between 5,000 and 10,000 users installed the Pro version.

In addition to recording real-time pain experiences, Manage My Pain also tracks use of  pharmaceuticals and links people’s medications and dosages with their specific pain experience records. Data from the app can also be used to support medical insurance and disability claims, according to the company.

The large number of installations and capturing of individual records in a cloud database attracted the attention of Joel Katz, a health psychology professor at York and director of the Human Pain Mechanisms Lab. “These patient-reported outcomes will help us reveal previously unexplored patterns in pain, both in terms of intensity and the number of occurrences,” says Katz in a university statement. “Most chronic pain studies involve hundreds of participants but thanks to this app, we have several thousands of patients’ data to work with including hundreds of thousands of data points.”

Katz and colleagues study psychological, emotional, and biomedical factors surrounding acute and chronic pain. The lab examines processes that change episodes of acute pain into chronic and pathological pain conditions. The lab also studies medication solutions for preventing pain and interventions for minimizing pain and stress among hospitalized patients.

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