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Can smartphone data identify the local environmental drivers of respiratory disease?

Jones, PJ ORCID: 0000-0002-4880-6711, Koolhof, IS ORCID: 0000-0002-9923-7416, Wheeler, AJ ORCID: 0000-0001-9288-8163, Williamson, GJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3469-7550, Lucani, C, Campbell, SL, Bowman, DMJS ORCID: 0000-0003-2215-7685 and Johnston, FH ORCID: 0000-0002-5150-8678 2020 , 'Can smartphone data identify the local environmental drivers of respiratory disease?' , Environmental Research, vol. 182 , pp. 1-11 , doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109118.

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Abstract

Asthma and allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) are ubiquitous, chronic health conditions that seasonally affect asizeable proportion of the population. Both are commonly triggered or exacerbated by environmental conditionsincluding aeroallergens, air quality and weather. Smartphone technology offers new opportunities to identifyenvironmental drivers by allowing large-scale, real-time collection of day-to-day symptoms. As yet, however,few studies have explored the potential of this technology to provide useful epidemiological data on environment-symptom relationships. Here, we use data from the smartphone app ‘AirRater’ to examine relationshipsbetween asthma and allergic rhinitis symptoms and weather, air quality and pollen loads in Hobart, Tasmania,Australia. We draw on symptom data logged by app users over a three-year period and use time-series analysis toassess the relationship between symptoms and environmental co-variates. Symptoms are associated with particulatematter (IRR 1.06, 95% CI: 1.04–1.08), maximum temperature (IRR 1.28, 95% CI: 1.13–1.44) and pollentaxa including Betula (IRR 1.04, 95% CI: 1.02–1.07), Cupressaceae (IRR 1.02, 95% CI: 1.01–1.04), Myrtaceae(IRR 1.06, 95% CI: 1.02–1.10) and Poaceae (IRR 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01–1.09). The importance of these pollen taxavaries seasonally and more taxa are associated with allergic rhinitis (eye/nose) than asthma (lung) symptoms.Our results are congruent with established epidemiological evidence, while providing important local insightsincluding the association between symptoms and Myrtaceae pollen. We conclude that smartphone-sourced datacan be a useful tool in environmental epidemiology.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Jones, PJ and Koolhof, IS and Wheeler, AJ and Williamson, GJ and Lucani, C and Campbell, SL and Bowman, DMJS and Johnston, FH
Keywords: pollen, asthma, allergic rhinitis, Tasmania, smartphone, m-health, epidemiology
Journal or Publication Title: Environmental Research
Publisher: Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science
ISSN: 0013-9351
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.109118
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© 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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