London, June 19 (IANS) A team of researchers has found that smartphone apps and telehealth initiatives have the potential to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare systems and patients’ quality of life in relation to pain management.
The authors also emphasise that user involvement in the development and construction of smartphone apps and telehealth initiatives is vital to enhance acceptability and usability.
However, the study also advised that enhanced systems, policies and procedures are needed to prevent unethical use of health data across the health system.
“Our research found there is considerable potential for apps to actively support older people with their pain management and also improve communication with health professionals when physical services are unobtainable,” said Antonio Bonocaro from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).
“However, telehealth apps are mostly produced without getting users involved in the developmental process. The need for information sharing, education and self-administration of pain relief is almost completely neglected,” Bonocaro added.
For the study, published in the journal Geriatrics, a literature search was undertaken using PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, Embase, PsychINFO, the Cochrane database, Science Direct and references of retrieved articles by the research team.
The data were independently extracted by two reviewers from the original reports.
This integrative systematic review identified 10 articles considering smartphone applications related to self-management of chronic pain among older adults.
However, the researchers also said that it is important for future research to not only examine the effects of smartphone initiatives but also to compare their safety, acceptability, efficacy and cost-benefit ratio in relation to existing treatment modalities.