The role of digital health technologies in management of pain in older people: An integrative review

Priyanka Bhattarai, Jane L. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Pain is one of the most distressing and debilitating health issues faced by older people. The burden of unrelieved pain experienced by older people and its associated high symptom and economic costs demands consideration of new strategies to better this condition. As the global uptake of digital technology increases, exploring its potential to impact positively on older peoples’ pain self-management practices warrants investigation. This integrative review aimed to evaluate the use of digital health technology for management of older people's pain across care-settings. Searches were conducted to identify relevant English language studies published in CINHAL, Medline, Academic Search Complete, EMBASE, Cochrane library databases, and Google and Google Scholar websites. A total of 1003 papers were identified, 9 met the inclusion criteria. The highest level of evidence (Level II) was generated by three Phase II randomized controlled trials. These trials demonstrated the feasibility of computer based interactive or instructive video interventions however there was limited evidence to support their use for reduction of pain intensity and interference. Qualitative evidence demonstrated older people's willingness to use mobile technologies (iPhone or digital pen) to help manage their pain, however, the need of device-use training and connectedness with clinicians were highlighted. In conclusion, there is some evidence that integrating digital health technology into older peoples’ pain self-management plan is feasible and acceptable. However, the provision of high-quality technological interventions informed by a thorough understanding of older people's digital technology pain management needs is required to ensure greater integration of this technology in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Digital health technology
  • Older adults
  • Pain
  • Self-management
  • Telemedicine


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