| pain assessment

Tracking Pain and Stress Via a Cell Phone

Real-Time Health Data

A research article published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior details how smartphones are being used to survey real-time data for health. Researchers sought to determine “whether disadvantage and disorder in the immediate context—within or outside of the residential neighborhood—is associated with physiological symptoms indicative of stress and strain.” Past studies noted the link between socioeconomic disadvantage and disorder in residential neighborhoods and health risks. This study of 61 adults age 55 or older, living in New York City, captured location and ecological assessments. Stressful environmental issues—such as seeing broken sidewalks, empty buildings, litter, drug use—lead to spikes in pain, as recorded by the participants: while seeing these things, participants were about two-thirds more likely to report feeling pain.

“These fluctuations may have longer-term impacts on health and well-being for older adults who have to navigate demanding or distressing social environments on a regular basis,” said Erin York Cornwell, lead author of the study. The study concluded “that instantaneous exposure to disorder is associated with momentary spikes in pain and fatigue. This is not explained by cumulative exposure to disorder or concurrent stress or fear. Rather, disordered spaces may be physically and cognitively taxing for older adults in real time.” Further research is called for.


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