Personalizing digital pain management with adapted machine learning approach

Yifat Fundoiano-Hershcovitz, Keren Pollak, Pavel Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction:Digital therapeutics (DT) emerged and has been expanding rapidly for pain management. However, the efficacy of such approaches demonstrates substantial heterogeneity. Machine learning (ML) approaches provide a great opportunity for personalizing the efficacy of DT. However, the ML model accuracy is mainly associated with reduced clinical interpretability. Moreover, classical ML models are not adapted for the longitudinal nature of the DT follow-up data, which may also include nonlinear fluctuations.Objectives:This study presents an analytical framework for personalized pain management using piecewise mixed-effects model trees, considering the data dependencies, nonlinear trajectories, and boosting model interpretability.Methods:We demonstrated the implementation of the model with posture biofeedback training data of 3610 users collected during 8 weeks. The users reported their pain levels and posture quality. We developed personalized models for nonlinear time-related fluctuations of pain levels, posture quality, and weekly training duration using age, gender, and body mass index as potential moderating factors.Results:Pain levels and posture quality demonstrated strong improvement during the first 3 weeks of the training, followed by a sustained pattern. The age of the users moderated the time fluctuations in pain levels, whereas age and gender interactively moderated the trajectories in the posture quality. Train duration increased during the first 3 weeks only for older users, whereas all the users decreased the training duration during the next 5 weeks.Conclusions:This analytical framework offers an opportunity for investigating the personalized efficacy of digital therapeutics for pain management, taking into account users' characteristics and boosting interpretability and can benefit from including more users' characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1065
JournalPain Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - 13 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Back pain
  • Decision tree
  • Digital therapeutics
  • Machine learning
  • Mixed model
  • Personalized digital therapeutics
  • Posture biofeedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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