A systematic review of neurophysiological sensing for the assessment of acute pain

Raul Fernandez-Rojas, Nicholas Brown, Gordon Waddington, Roland Goecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Pain is a complex and personal experience that presents diverse measurement challenges. Different sensing technologies can be used as a surrogate measure of pain to overcome these challenges. The objective of this review is to summarise and synthesise the published literature to: (a) identify relevant non-invasive physiological sensing technologies that can be used for the assessment of human pain, (b) describe the analytical tools used in artificial intelligence (AI) to decode pain data collected from sensing technologies, and (c) describe the main implications in the application of these technologies. A literature search was conducted in July 2022 to query PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus. Papers published between January 2013 and July 2022 are considered. Forty-eight studies are included in this literature review. Two main sensing technologies (neurological and physiological) are identified in the literature. The sensing technologies and their modality (unimodal or multimodal) are presented. The literature provided numerous examples of how different analytical tools in AI have been applied to decode pain. This review identifies different non-invasive sensing technologies, their analytical tools, and the implications for their use. There are significant opportunities to leverage multimodal sensing and deep learning to improve accuracy of pain monitoring systems. This review also identifies the need for analyses and datasets that explore the inclusion of neural and physiological information together. Finally, challenges and opportunities for designing better systems for pain assessment are also presented.
Original languageEnglish
Article number76
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Journalnpj Digital Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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