‘Cloudy with a chance of pain’ is a study looking at whether there is a link between the weather and the symptoms of pain. Participants with arthritis or chronic pain track their symptoms using a smart phone application or ‘app’. At the same time, the phone is recording the local weather. Using data from a very large number of people, it should be possible to uncover whether there is a relationship between the weather and pain.

Why is this work needed?

Musculoskeletal conditions account for 30 per cent of all years lived with disability. These conditions are widespread and have a big impact on people’s lives, the NHS and society as a whole. However, the data held on musculoskeletal conditions remains limited, making it very hard to better understand and treat them.

What is happening?

‘Cloudy with a chance of pain’ is a study looking at whether there is a link between the weather and pain. People with arthritis or chronic pain can participate in the study by downloading a smart phone app and tracking their daily symptoms. The phone then automatically records the weather at the time the symptom was reported. The data is not just available to the researchers and participants – once anonymised, the general public can also take a look at the grouped data from the app. The study actively encourages participants and members of the public to spot patterns and flag the trends that they can see to the researchers.

What will the benefits be?

This study gives the participants a chance to monitor and record their own health. It provides a new way of studying whether there is a connection between the weather and pain symptoms. Anecdotally, a link has been suggested for many years, but without a large study of data of this kind it has been virtually impossible to investigate.

What type of data is involved?

The health data is self-reported and combined with weather data.

Participants opt to be involved. Their data is grouped and anonymised, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office Code of Practice, before being made publicly available.

Who is funding and collaborating on this work?

This work is a collaboration between the University of Manchester, the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, umotif, The Office for Creative Research, the Health e-Research Centre and Arthritis Research UK (renamed as Versus Arthritis in 2018).

Where can I go for more information?

Cloudy with a chance of pain

You can watch a short animation about the project here