Smartphone-based pain management trial results ambiguous

A study of women with chronic widespread pain only exhibited "modest" evidence supporting the long-term effect of a smartphone-based intervention, according to an article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The goal of the randomized controlled trial in Norway was to study the efficacy of a four-week, smartphone-delivered intervention with written diaries and therapist feedback following an inpatient chronic pain rehabilitation program. A total of 140 Norwegian women with chronic widespread pain were randomized into two groups: with or without a smartphone intervention after their rehabilitation. 

Although previously found to be effective at short-term and five-month follow-ups, by the 11-month follow up the favorable between-group differences previously reported post-intervention on catastrophizing, acceptance, functioning, and symptom level were no longer evident, researchers found. As a result, the article concluded that the long-term results of this randomized trial are "ambiguous" at best.

"No significant between-group effect was found on the study variables at 11-month follow-up," the article states. "However, the within-group analyses, comparing the baseline for the smartphone intervention to the 11-month data, indicated changes in the desired direction in catastrophizing and acceptance in the intervention group but not within the control group."

The smartphone intervention consisted of one face-to-face session and four weeks of written communication via a smartphone. Participants received their smartphone diary entries daily to support their awareness of and reflection on pain-related thoughts, feelings, and activities.

To learn more:
- read the journal article

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