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Research Study Uses Surveys, Smartphone Sensor Data to Study Stress

March 16, 2018
by David Raths
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UCSF, Sage Bionetworks partner on ‘My BP Lab’ study

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Sage Bionetworks have launched a research study called “My BP Lab” that uses surveys and sensor data collected from participants’ smartphones to quantify and understand their daily stress.

The study leverages an optical sensor embedded in the newly released Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphone to derive estimates of heart rate and blood pressure. With My BP Lab, participants can track variation in their blood pressure relative to daily experiences over the course of the three-week study.

“This study potentially will provide the largest dataset ever obtained on stress levels, health behaviors, and physiological responses during the course of one’s daily life,” said Wendy Berry Mendes, a UCSF professor and principal investigator of the My BP Lab study, in a prepared statement. “By collecting subjective experiences, behaviors like sleep and exercise, and blood pressure levels across a three week period, we can identify the most important triggers of stress physiology.”

Blood pressure, along with contextual information, can provide individuals with insights as to how their daily activities affect their stress levels and overall well-being.

“Integration of health sensors into consumer smartphones provides a powerful opportunity for researchers to understand the impact that our surroundings can have on our health,” said Brian M. Bot, principal scientist at Sage Bionetworks and co-investigator of My BP Lab, in a statement. “In My BP Lab, we are able to explore the impact of stress on measures of health outside of a clinical setting.”

The study utilizes ResearchStack, an open source software framework designed to support researchers interested in launching studies through smartphones that use the Android operating system. This is the second Android-based study supported by Sage Bionetworks.

Sage Bionetworks is a nonprofit research organization that supports participant-centered research studies. It entered mobile health research in March of 2015, providing data governance and technical infrastructure to support remote enrollment and secure data management. Sage has supported over two-dozen separate studies in partnership with a number of academic and industry collaborators that have collectively engaged more than 100,000 participants.

My BP Lab is open to participants over the age of 18 living in the United States with a Samsung Galaxy S9 or Galaxy S9+. The research is being conducted under the supervision of Professor Wendy Berry Mendes at UCSF and uses optical sensor technology from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The My BP Lab study app will be available starting March 15, 2018. Information is available on the study website and the app may be downloaded from the Google Play Store.


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