Around 60 Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust patients are to take part in a study to look at how wearable and mobile devices can help us to understand the relationship between stress and the symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and help to improve management of the condition.
The research is part of a larger US-based study that uses smart watches, smart rings, smart scales, and smart phones on more than 200 people with Crohn’s disease to track physiological stress signals and correlate these measurements against the symptoms and stress questionnaires that patients record themselves.
The trial will last for six months, with a six-month follow-up period. The wearables will capture a range of physiological data, including cardiovascular output, body mass index, water content and sleep patterns. Alongside this information, patients will complete a range of questionnaires on how they are feeling.
The study is being coordinated by the US company, 4YouandMe, which aims to reduce the burden of chronic diseases through the use of digital devices. This is a collaboration between Oxford and the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, where the man who gave his name to Crohn’s disease, Burrill B. Crohn, worked. The research is supported by the Helmsley Trust Foundation.
“We know there is a relationship between stress, anxiety and depression and the symptoms of chronic, inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease. Perceptions of stress are subjective and vary from patient to patient, which has made it hard to study the effects of stress, mood and sleep on the progression of disease,” said Prof Simon Travis, Consultant Gastroenterologist at OUH and Professor of Clinical Gastroenterology at the University of Oxford.
“We’re hopeful that the objective, validated measurements this study provides will reveal correlations between mood and changes in the nature of the disease, to allow us in future to use these digital tools to predict how an individual’s symptoms evolve and help them to take steps to manage their condition,” said Dr Alissa Walsh, Consultant Gastroenterologist working on the project with Prof Travis, whose research into Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel conditions is supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.
Ultimately, 4YouandMe plans to develop a forecasting algorithm for Crohn’s disease symptoms by using mathematical models that correlate data on patients’ stress responses with their pattern of disease.