Mobile health (mHealth) for headache disorders: A review of the evidence base.

Publication Date: 
Nov 01, 2016

The aim of this review was to explore and summarise the evidence base for using mobile apps for the management of headache disorders. PubMed, Web of Science, Embase and Scopus were searched for studies reporting the use of mobile health applications (apps) for managing headache disorders. Different combinations of keywords for mobile health, smartphone and headache were used for electronic search. Six studies (two journal papers and four conference papers) met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. All of the reviewed studies were categorised as the lowest level (level IV) of evidence according to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) hierarchy of evidence. The results of the studies demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of a few mobile apps for headache in very limited settings, and indicated that these apps can be effective tools for identifying trigger factors of migraine, improving self-management of headache disorders, and mediating the interactions between headache sufferers and their treating doctors. The role of participatory research and involvement of patients and clinicians in the development of such apps was also highlighted. Despite the availability of numerous mobile apps for headache disorders, the evidence base to support their effectiveness and clinical safety is very weak. The current literature indicates that mobile apps have the potential for improving the care of headache sufferers, but this is yet to be proven by adequately designed studies.