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Doctor, tell me about mHealth, a mobile health smartphone app for older adults. Does it improve quality of life and reduce pain?

Using the mHealth app did not improve quality of life, but did reduce chronic pain levels by a small amount.

What is the evidence?


mHealth app with or without nursing support vs usual care on quality of life and chronic pain level

Outcome at 3 monthsEffect

Quality of Life

(221 participants)

mHealth app with or without nursing support did not improve Quality of Life Scores compared to usual care

Chronic pain level*

(144 participants)

mHealth app with or without nursing support reduced chronic pain levels by a small amount

*measured on a visual scale on the app with scores ranging from 0 to 10 (lower scores = lower pain levels)

What kind of study was this?

This was a randomized controlled trial.

Who? This study included 221 adults over age 60 who were living in the community in Hong Kong (average age 77 years; 84% women), had a smartphone, and at least one of the following problems: chronic pain (144 people [65% of the study population]), high blood pressure or diabetes.

What? The study compared using the mHealth app plus nursing support versus using the mHealth app alone versus usual care (no mHealth app) on quality of life including chronic pain level at 3 months.

mHealth app


Usual care (no mHealth app)

mHealth app: smartphone app that participants used to enter their blood pressure, heart rate, glucose level, and symptoms such as dizziness, pain, and vomiting. Nurses would call them only if items of concern were reported on the app.

mHealth app plus nursing support: a nurse reviewed the information entered by participants on the app daily, involved family physicians or social work as needed, and provided personalized education on self-care health management to the participant. Nurses called participants 8 times during the 3 month study period.

No mHealth app

Why was this research done?

Apps on smartphones provide a new way to help people manage their health problems. They can be used to receive health information and provide reminders about medications and appointments. They can also be used to monitor blood pressure and glucose levels (for people with diabetes) with alerts about when to call the doctor. The researchers wanted to know if the mHealth app with or without nursing support would improve the quality of life including management of pain in community dwelling older adults. They found that people who used the mHealth app did not report a higher quality of life than people who did not use the mHealth app, but they did have slightly lower chronic pain levels. Concerns about this study include that the size of the study was small, nursing support was only available during office hours, and no information was collected on how easy it was for participants to use the app.

This Evidence Summary is based on the following article:

Wong AKC, Wong FKY, Chow KKS, et al. Effect of a Mobile Health Application With Nurse Support on Quality of Life Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults in Hong Kong: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Nov 1;5(11):e2241137. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.41137. PubMed

Published: Thursday, June 1, 2023
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Please note that the information contained herein is not to be interpreted as an alternative to medical advice from a professional healthcare provider. If you have any questions about any medical matter, you should consult your professional healthcare providers, and should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medication based on information provided here.