Digital Health Interventions for Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Pim Peter Valentijn*, Liza Tymchenko, Teddy Jacobson, Jakob Kromann, Claus W Biermann, Mohamed Atef AlMoslemany, Rosa Ymkje Arends

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


BACKGROUND: Digital health solutions can provide populations with musculoskeletal pain with high-reach, low-cost, easily accessible, and scalable patient education and self-management interventions that meet the time and resource restrictions.

OBJECTIVE: The main objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of digital health interventions for people with musculoskeletal pain conditions (ie, low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, elbow pain, ankle pain, and whiplash).

METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted. We searched PubMed and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (from 1974 to August 2021) and selected randomized controlled trials of digital health interventions in the target population of patients with musculoskeletal pain with a minimum follow-up of 1 month. A total of 2 researchers independently screened and extracted the data.

RESULTS: A total of 56 eligible studies were included covering 9359 participants, with a mean follow-up of 25 (SD 15.48) weeks. In moderate-quality evidence, digital health interventions had a small effect on pain (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.19, 95% CI 0.06-0.32), disability (SMD 0.14, 95% CI 0.03-0.25), quality of life (SMD 0.22, 95% CI 0.07-0.36), emotional functioning (SMD 0.24, 95% CI 0.12-0.35), and self-management (SMD 0.14, 95% CI 0.05-0.24).

CONCLUSIONS: Moderate-quality evidence supports the conclusion that digital health interventions are effective in reducing pain and improving functioning and self-management of musculoskeletal pain conditions. Low-quality evidence indicates that digital health interventions can improve the quality of life and global treatment. Little research has been conducted on the influence of digital health on expenses, knowledge, overall improvement, range of motion, muscle strength, and implementation fidelity.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37869
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2022

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