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Using smart devices to predict episodes of psychosis

A new study into the phone habits of people who have experienced psychosis hopes to be able to recognise early signs of an oncoming episode.

Cardiff University is one of six universities from across the UK involved in the new project, CONNECT.

Researchers are interested to see how smart phones and watches could be used to predict when someone may experience a psychosis relapse.

Dr Kimberley Kendall, a Cardiff-based researcher on the project, explained, “People from all walks of life can experience psychosis. The main symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations, delusions, and confusion in thought and speech. However, the early symptoms of a psychosis relapse are more subtle and often include heightened or decreased levels of sleep and activity.”

Using an assigned smart phone and watch, researchers will collect data such as heart rate, step count, sleep quality, and activity levels from participants with a history of psychosis,

By analysing this anonymised data, researchers hope to identify an early pattern of symptom development or behaviours that can indicate a psychosis episode earlier.

Capturing people’s experiences

As well as step-count, activity levels, sleep quality, and heart rate, researchers will also collect information about general phone activity.

This can be the number of texts sent and received, phone call length, app usage, and location.

Researchers will use this anonymised information to see whether decreased levels of social interaction, such as getting out and about, texting, and making phone calls could indicate the early signs of a psychosis relapse.

Throughout the study, participants will also be asked to answer short questionnaires a few times a week about their general wellbeing and meet with a researcher every three months for an assessment.

Benefits of taking part

Whilst the key benefit of taking part is the contribution to research that can help identify early symptoms of psychosis relapse that can potentially prevent an episode,

By participating in this research, volunteers will contribute to the development of new knowledge which could help people who experience psychosis in the future.

Researchers also hope that through actively monitoring thoughts, mood, sleep quality, and general activity, participants will gain an understanding as to how these elements can impact their wellbeing.

Other benefits include:

  • At the end of taking part in the 12-month study, you will be able to keep the smartphone and wearable device (if you asked for one to use during the study).
  • The study will also pay for your data network costs for the time you are using the CONNECT app, and for attending research assessments over the 12 months. You will also be reimbursed for any reasonable travel to and from research appointments.
  • At the end of the study, you will be given a summary of your information and an opportunity to talk about it with the research team.

“We’re placing individuals with lived experience of psychosis at the centre of the Connect study. If you’ve previously had experience of psychosis and want to help us make a difference, we want to hear from you,” Dr Kendall reflected.

Visit the Connect website to find out more about you can help today

Ellie Short

Ellie is the Communications Officer for NCMH and the Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetic and Genomics at Cardiff University.

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