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      Older adults are mobile too!Identifying the barriers and facilitators to older adults’ use of mHealth for pain management

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          Mobile health (mHealth) is a rapidly emerging field with the potential to assist older adults in the management of chronic pain (CP) through enhanced communication with providers, monitoring treatment-related side effects and pain levels, and increased access to pain care resources. Little is currently known, however, about older adults’ attitudes and perceptions of mHealth or perceived barriers and facilitators to using mHealth tools to improve pain management.


          We conducted six focus groups comprised of 41 diverse older adults (≥60 years of age) with CP. Participants were recruited from one primary care practice and two multiservice senior community day-visit centers located in New York City that serve older adults in their surrounding neighborhoods. Focus group discussions were recorded and transcribed, and transcriptions were analyzed using direct content analysis to identify and quantify themes.


          Focus group discussions generated 38 individual themes pertaining to the use of mHealth to help manage pain and pain medications. Participants had low prior use of mHealth (5% of participants), but the vast majority (85%) were highly willing to try the devices. Participants reported that mHealth devices might help them reach their healthcare provider more expeditiously (27%), as well as help to monitor for falls and other adverse events in the home (15%). Barriers to device use included concerns about the cost (42%) and a lack of familiarity with the technology (32%). Facilitators to device use included training prior to device use (61%) and tailoring devices to the functional needs of older adults (34%).


          This study suggests that older adults with CP are interested and willing to use mHealth to assist in the management of pain. Participants in our study reported important barriers that medical professionals, researchers, and mHealth developers should address to help facilitate the development and evaluation of age-appropriate, and function-appropriate, mHealth devices for older persons with CP.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Three approaches to qualitative content analysis.

          Content analysis is a widely used qualitative research technique. Rather than being a single method, current applications of content analysis show three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, or summative. All three approaches are used to interpret meaning from the content of text data and, hence, adhere to the naturalistic paradigm. The major differences among the approaches are coding schemes, origins of codes, and threats to trustworthiness. In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context. The authors delineate analytic procedures specific to each approach and techniques addressing trustworthiness with hypothetical examples drawn from the area of end-of-life care.
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            Pain assessment: global use of the Brief Pain Inventory.

            Poorly controlled cancer pain is a significant public health problem throughout the world. There are many barriers that lead to undertreatment of cancer pain. One important barrier is inadequate measurement and assessment of pain. To address this problem, the Pain Research Group of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Symptom Evaluation in Cancer Care has developed the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), a pain assessment tool for use with cancer patients. The BPI measures both the intensity of pain (sensory dimension) and interference of pain in the patient's life (reactive dimension). It also queries the patient about pain relief, pain quality, and patient perception of the cause of pain. This paper describes the development of the Brief Pain Inventory and the various applications to which the BPI is suited. The BPI is a powerful tool and, having demonstrated both reliability and validity across cultures and languages, is being adopted in many countries for clinical pain assessment, epidemiological studies, and in studies of the effectiveness of pain treatment.
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              Outcome measures for low back pain research. A proposal for standardized use.

              An international group of back pain researchers considered recommendations for standardized measures in clinical outcomes research in patients with back pain. To promote more standardization of outcome measurement in clinical trials and other types of outcomes research, including meta-analyses, cost-effectiveness analyses, and multicenter studies. Better standardization of outcome measurement would facilitate comparison of results among studies, and more complete reporting of relevant outcomes. Because back pain is rarely fatal or completely cured, outcome assessment is complex and involves multiple dimensions. These include symptoms, function, general well-being, work disability, and satisfaction with care. The panel considered several factors in recommending a standard battery of outcome measures. These included reliability, validity, responsiveness, and practicality of the measures. In addition, compatibility with widely used and promoted batteries such, as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Lumbar Cluster were considered to minimize the need for changes when these instruments are used. First, a six-item set was proposed, which is sufficiently brief that it could be used in routine care settings for quality improvement and for research purposes. An expanded outcome set, which would provide more precise measurement for research purposes, includes measures of severity and frequency of symptoms, either the Roland or the Oswestry Disability Scale, either the SF-12 or the EuroQol measure of general health status, a question about satisfaction with symptoms, three types of "disability days," and an optional single item on overall satisfaction with medical care. Standardized measurement of outcomes would facilitate scientific advances in clinical care. A short, 6-item questionnaire and a somewhat expanded, more precise battery of questionnaires can be recommended. Although many considerations support such recommendations, more data on responsiveness and the minimally important change in scores are needed for most of the instruments.

                Author and article information

                BMC Geriatr
                BMC Geriatr
                BMC Geriatrics
                BioMed Central
                6 May 2013
                : 13
                : 43
                [1 ]Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA
                [2 ]The Center for Healthcare Informatics and Policy, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA
                Copyright © 2013 Parker et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Geriatric medicine


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