York researchers map patterns of user engagement for ‘Manage My Pain’ app
Unique insights into chronic pain sufferers who engage with the pain management app “Manage My Pain” were published in a JMIR mHealth and uHealth study by York University researchers.
The analysis involved three groups of York U researchers: Professor Joel Katz’s Human Pain Mechanisms Lab, Professor Jane Heffernan’s Centre for Disease Modelling and Professor Paul Ritvo’s Health Behaviour Change Lab.
The researchers out of York U are experts in pain, mental health and data science, and analyzed patterns of engagement using novel data mining techniques not typically used in health care. The app’s developer, ManagingLife, collaborated with researchers.
Manage My Pain is an mHealth app created for the millions of people with chronic pain who want to better understand their conditions and are looking to better communicate with their doctors. The study analyzed data from more than 24,000 users of the app who recorded more than half a million data points.
This contrasts with most studies in the field of pain that rarely involve more than 1,000 participants. The study reported that, although most users of the app reported being female, male users were more likely to be highly engaged. Similarly, the most engaged users self-reported a higher number of pain conditions, a higher number of current medications and a higher incidence of opioid usage.
The researchers believe the data and this approach to analysis could help shape future treatments of pain.
“App users can reveal previously unexplored patterns in pain and associated factors, and can help us develop new ways to engage complex pain patients,” said Katz, Canada Research Chair in Health Psychology at York U and one of the lead authors of the study. “Since males are typically less actively engaged in their own health care than females, and given that the proportion of males was significantly greater than that of females in the highly engaged cluster, the Manage My Pain app may be one way to increase male uptake of health-care behaviours regarding pain.”
ManagingLife is a privately held corporation based in Toronto that uses patient engagement and analytics to help chronic pain sufferers and practitioners learn more about their condition and better communicate with each other.