UCI-led team helps standardize data collection and reporting from wearable activity trackers

Newswise – Irvine, Calif., February 16, 2022 — Wearable activity trackers are not only popular with consumers, but also commonly used by clinicians for real-time, remote monitoring of patient fitness. However, when these devices are used as health care monitoring tools in medical research studies, there is a problem: inconsistency. To help remedy this, a team led by researchers at the University of California, Irvine has developed a framework to standardize data collection and reporting.

The study was recently published online in the International Journal of Medical Informatics.

“Activity trackers capture personalized data that can provide insights into healthcare analytics and user feedback on health status, both for patients and healthy individuals, but it there is a lack of standardization in the reporting of the metrics they generate,” said corresponding author Alexandre Chan, UCI President. and Professor of Clinical Pharmacy Practice. “These devices can revolutionize healthcare by allowing researchers to monitor the severity of symptoms and help clinicians provide more holistic care to their patients and ultimately improve people’s quality of life. but the biometric statistics obtained can be very variable. Our goal is to improve the consistency of reporting.

The researchers’ recommendations provide a minimum threshold framework for reporting measures of adherence, validity, and physical activity in clinical studies.

Several commercial trackers have been used in medical research, with the Fitbit being the most common. Brands integrate different sensors – such as accelerometers, global positioning systems and gyroscopes – into the devices, and various algorithms are used to determine activity outputs, including step count, distance traveled and habits. sleep. This personal biometric data is entered into each individual’s specific account, which can then be accessed either directly or through third-party fitness apps.

The team conducted a systematic review of observational or interventional medical research studies in healthy populations and patients via the PubMed and Embase databases. Although inconsistencies were found in measurement and reporting data, commonalities and definitions of measurement types derived from activity tracking were identified to develop recommended minimum reporting thresholds. Key metrics were membership data or percentage of days trackers were worn; period of validity, or the adequate wearing time per day and per week; and measures of physical activity, including number of steps, levels of acceleration, energy expenditure and intensity.

“With the increasing use of activity trackers in clinical research, our framework can help facilitate the development of standardized data collection and reporting. Our recommendations are the first step. Currently, we are implementing our recommendations to a medical follow-up dataset we collected from an international study involving adolescents and young adults with cancer and volunteers Future studies should assess the feasibility of adopting minimum reporting thresholds for the data generated by these wearable devices,” Chan said.

The research team also included Daniella Chan, a UCI pharmaceutical science student; and student Hui Lee, researcher Chiu Chin Ng and research assistant Angie Hui Ling Yeo from the National University of Singapore Department of Pharmacy at the time of the study.

About University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by US News and World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, leading research, innovation, and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It is located in one of the safest and most vibrant communities in the world and is Orange County’s largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion to the statewide. To learn more about the UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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