To improve communication about pain between patients and physicians, a team led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC has developed a mobile application called “Painimation” that has the potential to assess and monitor pain better than any previously used measurement tools. Results of the clinical trial were published today in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
“Currently, our only available tools for patients to communicate their pain is to either give them 0 to 10 scales or a selection of words and phrases to describe their pain, methods that have been used for more than 50 years,” said lead author Charles Jonassaint, Ph.D., M.H.Sc., assistant professor of medicine, social work and clinical and translational science. “Many pain patients will say their pain can’t be measured on the 0-to-10 scale and that it is too challenging to describe their pain using words. As a result, their pain is misunderstood and patients in pain may be prescribed more opioids without always knowing whether they are needed or if they are working.”
Painimation is an electronic assessment tool that uses animations to assess pain quality, type and location. With this app, patients are first provided with a selection of animations that they can use to describe the severity of their pain. These animations can then be increased or decreased in speed, color saturation, focus and size to accurately match their pain experience. The app also provides users with the opportunity to label their pain on a human body, allowing them to identify where and how much of their body is affected by pain.