Researchers Predict Changes in Pain for Users of Pain Management App

November 21, 2018
The Manage My Pain app helps patients and clinics measure, monitor, and manage chronic pain.
Prediction models that identify and forecast changes in pain experiences of users of the pain management app, Manage My Pain, were published in the industry-leading digital health journal, Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). No research has been published to date attempting to define pain volatility in this manner, let alone predict it. ManagingLife, the app's developer, collaborated with experts in pain, mental health, and data science, to apply data science techniques that are unprecedented in healthcare or pain management.

The Manage My Pain app helps patients and clinics measure, monitor, and manage chronic pain.

Data for this analysis came from users of the Manage My Pain 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. Researchers used data mining techniques to define pain volatility, a new measure to describe how the severity of pain changes over time. Machine learning techniques were then used to predict users' pain volatility levels six months in the future, based on the information entered into the app in the first month. Prior to this research, the data required to conduct such an analysis have been previously limited to pain outcomes collected by traditional methods of assessing pain, such as paper-based questionnaires. The researchers believe this innovative, data-driven approach to analysis could help shape future treatments of pain. "With the significant increase in data available and by applying machine learning methods, we can better understand how pain experiences change and better understand how that might evolve in the future," says Professor Joel Katz, Canada Research Chair in Health Psychology at York U and one of the lead authors of the study. Katz went on to say, "This study may help to identify risk factors for heightened volatility and, therefore, to potentially prevent the development of high pain volatility through effective interventions."

The study used data from 782 users who collectively recorded more than 329,000 data points. The study reported that its model predicts whether users experience low or high levels of pain volatility 6 months in the future, with approximately 70% accuracy.

The analysis involved three groups of York U researchers: Katz's Human Pain Mechanisms Lab, Prof Jane Heffernan's Centre for Disease Modeling, Mathematics & Statistics, and Prof Paul Ritvo's Health Behaviour Change Lab.

About ManagingLife
ManagingLife is a privately held Corporation based in Toronto, Canada that has developed a digital solution for pain management that combines patient self-management, remote monitoring and analytics to help chronic pain sufferers and practitioners learn more about their condition and better communicate with each other. With its award-winning app, Manage My Pain, ManagingLife works with disability carriers, health plans, pain clinics, and clinical trials to help healthcare professionals better measure and manage their patients' pain and medications.

About York University
Founded in 1959, York University is the 3rd largest university in Canada. Through cross-discipline programming, innovative course design, diverse experiential learning and a supportive community environment, York University's students get the education they need to have big ideas and endless career opportunities. York U's 11 faculties and 25 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 200+ leading universities worldwide. York U's community is strong − 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 295,000 alumni.

Media Contact:
Nadia Bashir
416 910 3760

Read the full release here:

Read More of Our Research Publications