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How pain-based weather forecasts could influence behaviour

A new study shows a strong relationship between weather-based pain forecasts and changes in behaviour

About 70% of respondents said they would change their behaviour such as by cancelling plans based on weather-based pain forecasts(Pexels)

By Team Lounge

LAST PUBLISHED 16.01.2024  |  03:30 PM IST

For people who experience chronic pain, weather can significantly affect their daily life. A new study has found a strong relationship between weather-based pain forecasts and changes in behaviour, highlighting the former's importance.

For this study, researchers from the University of Georgia surveyed 4,600 individuals with chronic pain to understand the relationship between weather patterns and pain. The findings showed that among migraine sufferers, 89% identified weather as something that impacts their pain level, and 79% saw weather as a trigger for pain. Among people with other conditions, 64% said weather patterns could trigger pain and 94% identified weather as a factor that impacts pain, the university’s press statement revealed.

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"I see how much people can be affected by these types of pain, so if I can provide someone with insight into the level of risk for a day, maybe people can take steps to prevent the pain from happening," lead author Christopher Elcik said in the statement. "There are preventative measures people can take if risks are higher," he added. The findings were published in the Journal of Biometeorology.

Notably, about 70% of respondents said they would change their behaviour such as by cancelling plans based on weather-based pain forecasts, the university’s press statement revealed. If the risk was high, more than half of respondents said they are likely to take preventive measures, such as medication, resting or avoiding triggers, and about 47% of respondents with migraines and 46% with pain-related conditions were "extremely likely" to take such measures.

The results also showed that the duration of the plans mattered. For instance, if the plans were about 30 minutes long, 57% of respondents with migraines and 52% with pain-related conditions said they were "extremely likely" to continue plans there was a moderate risk of pain, the statement revealed. However, if the activity could last more than three hours, the numbers dropped to around 23% for moderate risk and 18% for high risk with migraines.

It also depended on the level of forecast risk. "Everyone was more likely to cancel plans if the forecast risk was higher," Elcik said in the statement. This study highlights the importance of developing reliable pain-based weather forecasts, the researchers said. It also showed the importance of developing such a resource and that there is an audience for it.

The researchers added that these results can enable other researchers to examine similar, larger-scale weather phenomena and help the community better understand how the environment impacts pain.

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