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Study Reveals Privacy Issues in Smartphone Headache Apps

Headache diaries are a mainstay of migraine management, and many commercial smartphone apps have been developed to help people track their pain. A new Headache study found that such apps often share information with third parties, posing privacy risks partly because there are few legal protections against the sale or disclosure of data from medical apps to third parties.

Thursday, July 5, 2018 12:01 am EDT
"In 2018, it is estimated that nearly half of 3.4 billion smartphone users will use health-related apps, and currently, there are a wide range of apps on the market for various neurologic and pain conditions"

Headache diaries are a mainstay of migraine management, and many commercial smartphone apps have been developed to help people track their pain. A new Headache study found that such apps often share information with third parties, posing privacy risks partly because there are few legal protections against the sale or disclosure of data from medical apps to third parties.

Of 14 diary apps analyzed, all collected medical information from the user with 57% (8/14) offering the capability to store patient diary data on the app providers’ servers, 14% (2/14) not providing clear statements as to whether patient data would be stored locally or remotely, and others storing data locally on the user’s device and/or in Dropbox’s “cloud.”

“In 2018, it is estimated that nearly half of 3.4 billion smartphone users will use health-related apps, and currently, there are a wide range of apps on the market for various neurologic and pain conditions,” said lead author Dr. Mia Minen, of NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York. “We think our study may have widespread implications for people suffering from various chronic conditions.”

Additional Information

Link to Study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/head.13341

About Journal

Headache publishes original articles on all aspects of head and face pain including communications on clinical and basic research, diagnosis and management, epidemiology, genetics, and pathophysiology of primary and secondary headaches, cranial neuralgias, and pains referred to the head and face. Monthly issues feature case reports, short communications, review articles, letters to the editor, and news items regarding AHS plus medicolegal and socioeconomic aspects of head pain. This is the official journal of the American Headache Society.

For more information on the membership, please visit www.americanheadachesociety.org.

About Wiley 

Wiley, a global research and learning company, helps people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 210 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company's website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

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