Older Adults’ Pain Outcomes After mHealth Interventions: Scoping Review

Marcia Shade, Mariya Kovaleva, Kimberly Harp, Aqueasha Martin-Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Pain is prevalent and poorly managed in older adults. Although pain self-management strategies are helpful, adoption and access are limited; thus, technology provides an opportunity for intervention delivery. Mobile health (mHealth) is feasible to use in older adults; however, we have yet to understand the effect of mHealth pain self-management interventions on pain outcomes in older adults. Objective: The purpose of this scoping review is to examine the characteristics of mHealth interventions and their efficacy on pain outcomes in older adults with musculoskeletal pain. Methods: With the assistance of a medical librarian, keywords and subject headings were generated, including but not limited to mobile health application, mHealth, digital, pain, pain management, and older. A search was conducted for papers in journal databases, including PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, and IEEE Xplore, between 2000 and 2022. Papers were screened according to predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria, and reference lists were reviewed for additional paper inclusion. Three authors appraised the methodology of papers independently, then collaboratively to synthesize the evidence. Results: Six publications were included in the scoping review. The design and methodology ranged widely from pilot studies to a comparative effectiveness trial. Older participants in the studies reported a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Delivery of the mHealth pain self-management interventions incorporated mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. Most mHealth-delivered interventions were multicomponent and incorporated elements of in-person and telephone access to an interventionist. The findings suggested mHealth interventions may reduce pain intensity; however, pain interference and other pain-related conditions did not have a statistically significant reduction. Conclusions: Research that has explored mHealth for pain self-management is beginning to move beyond feasibility. The few experimental studies conducted in older adults are heterogeneous, and the interventions are mostly multicomponent. It is premature to conclude the interventions’ significant effect on pain or pain-related symptoms. As technology continues to integrate into health care, more experimental research is warranted to examine the efficacy of mHealth interventions on a variety of pain outcomes in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere46976
JournalJMIR Aging
StatePublished - 2023


  • mHealth
  • mobile health
  • mobile phone
  • musculoskeletal pain
  • older adults
  • pain
  • pain management
  • pain outcomes
  • scoping review
  • self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Gerontology
  • Health Informatics
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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