A new study by the University of Warwick in the UK has revealed that patients will be able to self-assess their back pain with the help of an app on their phone or tablet.
The study demonstrated that digital versions of established measurements to assess back pain are responsive and open new avenues for their use by patients to carry out routine measurements, as well as for clinical trials.
In light of recent calls for more use of such technology by healthcare providers, the researchers view the latest study as a necessary step in the use of digital media in clinical settings.
The university researchers developed mobile app versions of the most commonly-used measures in back pain trials with support from the University of Warwick Higher Education Innovation Fund.
The measures include the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), visual analogue scale (VAS) of pain intensity, and numerical rating scale (NRS).
University of Warwick Clinical Trials Unit lead author Dr Robert Froud said: “We have taken existing outcome measures and shown that they can be migrated to digital media and used in that format just as effectively as their paper-based versions.
“Our intention is to develop technology that allows people to securely complete these kinds of assessments on their own phones and tablets in a way that is safe, secure and accurate.
“The implications are quite big because we can aim to scale up. It opens up potential for the development of new instruments and dynamic instruments that adapt to the answers that a user gives.”
The advantages of digital tests over paper-based versions include their reduced cost, lower carbon footprint and better information security.