IDHA Launches New Respiratory Health Study on Google Health Studies App

In December 2020, the Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator department at Boston Children’s Hospital launched a new health study in collaboration with Google. The Respiratory Health Study is the inaugural study included in the Google Health Studies app (available for download in the Google Play Store[1]). Google Health Studies provides Android users a way to contribute to health research led by research institutions simply and securely through users’ phones[2].

The purpose of this prospective observational study is to provide near real-time surveillance data on influenza-like illness (ILI), coronavirus-like illness (CLI), and non-specific respiratory illness (NSRI) by community, county, state, region, and nation (United States). Additionally, the study aims to better understand the relationship between risk factors (e.g., demographics, household information, medical conditions, mobility patterns, Covid-19 vaccination status) and respiratory illnesses, such as ILI, CLI, and NSRI.

The Respiratory Health Study is open to adults in the United States. To participate, users download the Google Health Studies app and enroll in the Respiratory Health Study through their phone. Participants must complete a one-time enrollment survey and grant the app permission to access the device’s location services. If the enrollment survey is not completed or location services is not granted, the user cannot participate in the study. Mobility data is collected passively through the Android device to (1) track the spread of ILI, CLI, and NSRI and (2) to identify specific behaviors associated with an increased or decreased risk of developing respiratory illness[3].

Participants receive a push notification on their phone to complete a short weekly survey. Through this survey, users self-report the presence of any symptoms, influenza and coronavirus test results, influenza and coronavirus vaccination status, and whether they practiced respiratory disease prevention strategies (e.g., mask wearing and social distancing) during the previous 7 days. These responses, in combination with user mobility data, aim to determine whether participant’s behavior changes due to the presence of symptoms, respiratory disease test results, or vaccination status.




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