Fitbit, a global wearables brand, has been selected as the first wearable for use in the national All of Us Research Program established by the White House in 2015. This project is funded by a supplement to a funding award from the NIH to The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).
All of Us seeks to enroll one million or more participants to accelerate research that may improve the ability to prevent and treat disease based on individual characteristics. Researchers will use data gathered from the program to learn more about how individual differences in lifestyle, environment and biological makeup can influence health and disease.
As a subset of the All of Us Research Program, the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) leads The Participant Center, a unit tasked with enrolling and engaging diverse populations across the country. Through this network, STSI will provide up to 10,000 Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Alta HR devices to a representative sample of All of Us volunteers for a one-year study. At the end of the study, the researchers will provide recommendations on how the devices could be more broadly incorporated into the All of Us Research Program.
Additionally, the study will generate a data set that presents a unique opportunity to explore the relationship between health indicators such as physical activity, heart rate and sleep in conjunction with other critical health outcomes that will be captured as part of All of Us.
“As part of the global shift towards precision medicine, wearable data has the potential to inform highly personalized healthcare,” said Adam Pellegrini, General Manager of Fitbit Health Solutions. “Through this historic initiative, we will be able to see the role that Fitbit data can play on the path to better understanding how individualization can help to prevent and treat disease.”
Features of Fitbit Devices Are Vitally Important for Researchers
After evaluating consumer wearables in the market, the STSI team selected Fitbit based on its review of peer-reviewed validation studies and the fact that Fitbit devices are the most popular wearables in health research worldwide.
“The Fitbit devices selected track a combination of physical activity, sleep, and heart rate parameters,” said Eric Topol, Founder and Director of STSI. “The popularity of Fitbit devices among millions of Americans, combined with their ease of use, including multi-day battery life and broad compatibility with smartphones, made Fitbit a natural choice for this pilot program.”
An analysis published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal found that Fitbit devices are the most commonly used tracker in biomedical research, including published work (89%), clinical trials (83%), and NIH-funded research (95%). To-date, more than 470 published studies have utilized a Fitbit device, which is more than any other consumer wearable brand3, including use of wearables in areas such as diabetes, cardiovascular health, oncology, mental health and post-surgery.
“Most of what researchers know is based on intermittent snapshots of health in an artificial setting or based on personal recall,” said Steven Steinhubl, MD, Cardiologist and Director of Digital Medicine at STSI. “Through this research program, we’ll have access to comprehensive activity, heart rate and sleep data that may help us better understand the relationship between lifestyle behaviors and health outcomes and what that means for patients on an individualized basis.”