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King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

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Your Apple Watch could help tell more than just the time.

Researchers at the University of Washington are seeking King County residents to participate in a respiratory health study using data collected from Apple Watches. The study examines if, and how, an Apple Watch can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu, according to UW Medicine’s Brotman Baty Institute.

This intersection of health and technology to explore how physiological changes detected by Apple Watch will be the first study of its kind, allowing researchers to draw a relationship between associated symptoms, signals from Apple Watch and iPhone, and test results for COVID-19.

The six-month study is particularly focused on people of color and frontline workers who reside in King County cities, prioritizing participants who may have increased risk of respiratory illness because of frequent exposure to others through work, health conditions, or other factors and activities.

Individuals selected to participate in the study will be provided at-home test kits and an Apple Watch to wear. Information about heart rate and blood oxygen levels, along with other health and activity data, will be collected for researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine. There is no cost to participants.

To participate in the study, individuals must wear their Apple Watch, and complete weekly and monthly surveys on the Apple Research app about illness symptoms, recovery and lifestyle. Participants must also provide self-collected nasal swabs in order to test germs (viruses and bacteria) including SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.

Reminders, such as handwashing, will be utilized through the Apple Watch in order to learn how behavioral interventions like these could prevent one’s likelihood of developing viral infections.

Results from these tests may help identify the spread of the viruses and bacteria in the community. Data also will help researchers advance the understanding of how heart rate, sleep, activity, and other data collected relate to symptoms of infection and may help others in the future.

To ensure participants’ privacy, data will be stored in systems with strong security controls designed to protect the data. Additionally, any data that could directly identify participants will not be accessible by Apple.

The Apple Respiratory Study team includes investigators at the University of Washington School of Medicine, the Brotman Baty Institute, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in affiliation with the Seattle Flu Study and Apple.

For more information about the Apple Respiratory Study, visit seattleflu.org/applerespiratorystudy. If interested in taking part in the study, complete the screening questionnaire to determine eligibility. Those with additional questions may email watchstudy@uw.edu or call 206-221-4416.

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Olivia Sullivan

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Olivia Sullivan

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