Curable app

An an online pain psychology program available as an app.

Curable By Curable Health
Features
  • Smart coach or virtual therapist
  • Education and information
    (about chronic pain)
  • Self-management techniques
  • Panic button (for flare ups)
  • Guided meditations and visualizations 
  • Design a pain plan
Clinical review Free version







Paid version





User reviews

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Get the app from App website            Google Play               iTunes
Cost Free (basic)            Paid upgrade

What does the app do?

Curable is an online pain psychology program, where users interact with a virtual pain coach called Clara. Through a series of questions during the set-up process Clara gets insight into your pain and its causes. She then sends you lessons and exercises that aims to help you reverse the cycle of pain. Lessons or exercises lasts anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. In addition, the app has a panic demand for on-demand pain relief. Users can save favourite pain relief tools to use when needed. The app uses the mind-body approach or emotional awareness and expressive therapy (EAET). The free version has limited content. To access most of the content, users have to pay a monthly subscription (NZD $22 per month). For the complete app description, go to Google Play , iTunes  and the app website or for a more detailed review, see Reviews.  

PROS CONS 

✔ Can access the app on your phone or computer, which is synced.

✔ 13 free introductory audio lessons covering topics such as basic neuroscience, medical imaging, tissue damage, the pain-fear cycle, and emotions.

✔ Patient pain stories which are presented as interviews. The free version gives you access to a limited number of these.

✔ “Panic button” for access to on-demand pain relief. The free version is limited with only a word-swapping tool and limited guided meditations. The paid version gives you meditation, visualization, identifying emotions, and pep talk.

✔ With paid access there are dozens of hours’ worth of exercises to build skills in four key areas: pain education, brain training, meditation and expressive writing.

✔ Click the star button on tools and exercises to highlight those that are helpful.

✔ Virtual therapist who adjusts the activities provided depending on your responses

✔ Developed in association with a scientific advisory team of 10 specialists in a variety of sub-specialty areas.

✔ The website has an array of free podcasts and blog articles.

✘ Some of the content is based on John Sarno’s  'mind-body' approach who believed that “chronic musculoskeletal pain is a manifestation of ‘tension myositis syndrome’, due to repressed negative emotions” This approach has received a variety of criticisms. Some of the criticisms include:
  • Discussing suppressed trauma as a means of reducing pain does have some limited support (particularly for fibromyalgia) but some claim more research is needed.
  • It can fall short of our current understanding of pain.
  • It can over-emphasise the role of the mind, often ignoring the role of physical pain generators.

✘ Despite claiming to be based on the “biopsychosocial” model of pain, the app’s focus is almost completely on the psychology while largely leaving out the biology.

✘ To access most of the content, users have to pay a monthly subscription (NZD $ 22/month). If you went through the app diligently you could probably get through all the content in 2-3 months. But if you wanted to relook at anything in the future you need to pay.

 Transcripts are only available for some audio lectures.

✘ Audio, text and humorous gifs only. There are no schematics to help with education.

✘ No in-built questionnaires. For example, the app discusses the pain catastrophising scale, but doesn’t allow you to complete the tool within the app.

✘ There has been no high-quality research (i.e. a randomised controlled trial) directly evaluating the performance of this app. They mislead readers on their website by presenting research that is only slightly related, and the results of a survey.

Privacy and security

The app is password protected and has a privacy policy which is displayed when first loading the app. Read more about things you can do to improve your safety and security when using apps.

Review details

Date of review: April 2019
Platform reviewed: Android
Version: 4.1.0
Download size: 280 KB
Updated on: 5/11/2018

References

  1. Devan H, Farmery D, Peebles L, Grainger R. Evaluation of Self-Management Support Functions in Apps for People With Persistent Pain: Systematic Review. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2019 Feb 12;7(2)
  2. Rahman QA, Janmohamed T, Pirbaglou M, et al. Patterns of User Engagement With the Mobile App, Manage My Pain: Results of a Data Mining Investigation. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2017 Jul 12;5(7):e96. 
  3. Chaudhry BM. No gain without pain: using pain tracking mobile Apps. Mhealth. 2016 Jul 4;2:27. 
  4. Lalloo C, Jibb LA, Rivera J, et al. "There's a Pain App for That": Review of Patient-targeted Smartphone Applications for Pain Management. Clin J Pain. 2015 Jun;31(6):557-63. 
  5. Wallace LS, Dhingra LK. A systematic review of smartphone applications for chronic pain available for download in the United States. J Opioid Manag. 2014 Jan-Feb;10(1):63-8.  
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