An electronic pain assessment tool developed by ePAT Technologies has been shown to be valid and reliable for people with moderate to severe dementia.

The smartphone app for pain detection captures a brief video of a person, which is analysed using facial recognition software to detect the presence of facial micro-expressions that are indicative of the presence of pain.

The study comprised 353 paired observations in 40 people with moderate to severe dementia (aged 60-98 years).

Pain assessments derived from ePAT were compared with a widely used existing pain scale (Abbey Pain Scale), and the results showed a strong positive correlation between the two tools.

Co-author of the study Jeff Hughes said being able to show the validity and reliability of an app used on a smartphone is an important step towards the adoption of more convenient technologies to derive accurate pain assessments.

This improvement at point-of-care will deliver better health outcomes for patients.

The ePAT app has been given regulatory clearance in Australia and Europe, and will be rolled out globally for use in patients with dementia who have lost the ability to communicate with their carers.

A second phase will see an ePAT app for children who have not yet learned to speak.