Patients' Needs and Requirements for eHealth Pain Management Interventions: Qualitative Study

J Med Internet Res. 2019 Apr 1;21(4):e13205. doi: 10.2196/13205.


Background: A growing body of evidence supports the potential effectiveness of electronic health (eHealth) interventions in managing chronic pain. However, research on the needs and preferences of patients with chronic pain in relation to eHealth interventions is scarce. Eliciting user input in the development of eHealth interventions may be a crucial step toward developing meaningful interventions for patients for potentially improving treatment outcomes.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the experiences of patients with chronic pain with regard to information and communication technology, understand how an eHealth intervention can support the everyday needs and challenges of patients with chronic pain, and identify possible facilitators and barriers for patients' use of an eHealth pain management intervention.

Methods: Twenty patients living with chronic pain and five spouses participated in individual interviews. Semistructured interview guides were used to explore participants' needs, experiences, and challenges in daily life as well as their information and communication technology experiences and preferences for eHealth support interventions. Spouses were recruited and interviewed to gain additional insight into the patients' needs. The study used qualitative thematic analysis.

Results: The participants were generally experienced technology users and reported using apps regularly. They were mainly in favor of using an eHealth self-management intervention for chronic pain and considered it a potentially acceptable way of gathering knowledge and support for pain management. The participants expressed the need for obtaining more information and knowledge, establishing a better balance in everyday life, and receiving support for improving communication and social participation. They provided suggestions for the eHealth intervention content and functionality to address these needs. Accessibility, personalization, and usability were emphasized as important elements for an eHealth support tool. The participants described an ideal eHealth intervention as one that could be used for support and distraction from pain, at any time or in any situation, regardless of varying pain intensity and concentration capacity.

Conclusions: This study provides insight into user preferences for eHealth interventions aiming to address self-management for chronic pain. Participants highlighted important factors to be considered when designing and developing eHealth interventions for self-management of chronic pain, illustrating the importance and benefit of including users in the development of eHealth interventions.

Trial registration: NCT03705104;

Keywords: chronic pain; eHealth; intervention development; qualitative methods; self-management; user-centered design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Associated data