Cloudy with a chance of pain – preliminary findings

Study Summary

Cloudy with a Chance of Pain is a large smart-phone based research study examining the link between weather and pain. 

People have speculated that there might be a connection between the two for over 2000 years; however until recently we haven’t had the technology available to investigate whether there is in fact a link between weather and pain, and if so what the relationship might be.

The study is open to anybody living in the UK who has experienced pain for 3 months or more, is over the age of 17 and owns a smart-phone. Participants can sign up online, download the free uMotif data collection app onto their mobile phone and start submitting data immediately. We ask that participants submit their pain-related symptoms using the app daily, at which point the weather that they are experiencing at that moment is captured by their phone’s GPS.

The project has been running since January 2016 and has over 8000 participants who have submitted over 1 million pieces of data. On the 10th June 2016 we launched a new feature of the study, Citizen Science, which invites the public to help us to explore our large dataset and submit their hypotheses regarding any relationships they spot (or not) between weather and pain.

Results Summary

After 6 months of data collection, Cloudy researchers asked a team of data science interns at the Alan Turing Institute in London to undertake an initial analysis of the 2.2 million pieces of data that have been submitted so far.

The team looked at three regional areas focussing on the percentage of time participant’s reported being in severe pain, temperature levels, number of sunny hours and the amount of rainfall for February, April and June.

Their analysis has yielded some interesting results, revealing that as the number of sunny days increased between February and April participants across all three regions experienced a reduction in the number of days they spent in severe pain. This trend was reversed however in June, which despite being warm was a particularly wet month. The number of days spent in severe pain increased markedly for participants in Leeds and London, positively correlating with the high rainfall levels.

Researchers are now looking forward to delving deeper into the data, strengthening the support for the relationships that can be seen here and exploring how other types of weather might affect pain. To do this they need periods of consistent daily symptom tracking from participants for the next 6 months.

Find out more.. 


Posted on 14th March 2017 by Natalie Balmain

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