User-Centered Development of a Mobile App for Biopsychosocial Pain Assessment in Adults: Usability, Reliability, and Validity Study

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 May 14;9(5):e25316. doi: 10.2196/25316.


BACKGROUND: Pain-related mobile apps targeting pain assessment commonly limit pain assessment to pain behaviors and physiological aspects. However, current guidelines state that pain assessment should follow the biopsychosocial model, clearly addressing biological, psychological, and social aspects of the pain experience. Existing reviews also highlight that pain specialists and end users are not commonly involved in the development process of mobile apps for pain assessment, negatively affecting the quality of the available apps.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to develop a mobile app for pain assessment (AvaliaDor) and assess its usability, validity, reliability, and measurement error in a sample of real patients with chronic pain recruited from a physiotherapy clinic.

METHODS: This study was divided into 2 phases: phase 1-development of the AvaliaDor app; and phase 2-assessment of the apps’ usability, reliability, measurement error, and validity. AvaliaDor was developed (phase 1) based on the literature and the recommendations of physiotherapists and patients with pain in cycles of evaluation, inclusion of recommendations, and reevaluation until no further changes were required. The final version of the app was then tested in patients with musculoskeletal pain attending a private physiotherapy practice (phase 2) who were asked to use the app twice on 2 consecutive days for reliability purposes. In addition, participants had to complete a set of paper-based scales (Brief Pain Inventory, painDETECT, Pain Catastrophizing Scale, and Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia), which were used to assess the validity (criterion validity and hypothesis testing) of the app, and the Post-Study System Usability Questionnaire was used to assess its usability.

RESULTS: The development process (phase 1) included 5 physiotherapists external to the research team and 5 patients with musculoskeletal pain, and it resulted in the creation of an app named AvaliaDor, which includes an assessment of pain intensity, location, and phenotype; associated disability; and the issues of pain catastrophizing and fear of movement. A total of 52 patients with pain (mean age 50.12 years, SD 11.71 years; 39 females) participated in phase 2 and used the app twice. The Pearson correlation coefficient between the scores on the paper-based scales and the app ranged between 0.81 and 0.93 for criterion validity and between 0.41 and 0.59 for hypothesis testing. Test-retest reliability was moderate to good (intraclass correlation coefficient between 0.67 and 0.90) and the score for usability was 1.16 (SD 0.27), indicating good usability.

CONCLUSIONS: A mobile app named AvaliaDor was developed to assess the intensity, location, and phenotype of pain; associated disability; and the issues of pain catastrophizing and fear of movement in a user-centered design process. The app was shown to be usable, valid, and reliable for assessing pain from a biopsychosocial perspective in a heterogeneous group of patients with pain. Future work can explore the long-term use of AvaliaDor in clinical contexts and its advantages for the assessment and management of patients with pain.

PMID:33988515 | DOI:10.2196/25316

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