A study carried out by the University of Leeds has been published that evaluates smartphone apps intended for self-management of pain using quality assessment criteria and usability testing with prospective users.
The survey was carried out with 41 participants (aged 19–59 years) with experience of chronic or recurrent pain episodes.
The researchers undertook a survey, content analysis, and quality appraisal of all currently available mobile phone apps for self-management of pain. Two apps were then selected and assessed with usability testing.
Twelve apps met the inclusion criteria. The quality assessment revealed wide variation in their clinical content, interface design, and usability to support self-management of pain.
The study identified little user or clinician involvement in the development of the apps. From the usability testing, participants stated a preference for an interface design employing a lighter color scheme and particular text font. Although very few participants were aware of pain-reporting apps prior to participation, many would consider use in the future.
The study concludes that variation in app quality and a lack of user and clinician engagement in development were found across the pain apps in this research. The researchers recommend it would be beneficial to involve users earlier in the process of development, as well as establishing ways to merge end user requirements with evidence-based content, to provide high-quality and usable apps for self-management of pain.
Further details of the study can be found here.