Is It the Drug Or Fitbit Making the Difference?

As if clinical researchers and managers didn’t already have enough to worry about, now add activity trackers to the list.

Smartwatches, Fitbits and similar trackers have the potential to influence behavior, which matters in studies where physical activity is a study endpoint. (An endpoint in a clinical study is an event used to objectively measure the effect of a drug or other intervention.)

If the level of activity is an endpoint in a study of, say, a drug to improve fatigue, researchers need to be able to say that it is the drug that has made the difference. But anyone who has ever used a Fitbit or other activity tracker know how engaging – addicting, even – they can be. They prod you to get in that 10,000 steps with encouraging messages like, “Only 789 steps to reach your goal.”

As an article on the Clinical Research News website says, “Use of the devices could result in ‘activity peaks’ and ‘activity plateaus’ driven not by drug efficacy but as a response to the smartwatch/fitness tracker targets.”

In other words, who’s to say the increased physical activity was the result of the drug or the tracker prodding?

Before commercial trackers became so ubiquitous, researchers gave study volunteers devices that accumulated the data, but without making it visible to them. Commercial trackers make everything visible.

Besides simply counting steps, sophisticated wearables measure all sorts of activity related variables like heart rate, duration, intensity, distance, sleep and more. Because participants in studies of physical activity are able to see this data they can skew the results by working to reach targets and earn badges.

The authors of the article – “The Potential Of Activity Trackers To Bias Study Results” – suggest a number of measures researchers can take to mitigate the influence of these devices including prohibiting participants from wearing them, establishing baseline physical activity levels and choosing endpoints less likely to be influenced by the trackers.

Ultimately, the writers say, “Additional research is needed in this arena… More certain is that the unblinding of study data could have far-reaching if unintended consequences by introducing bias into the data analysis process.”

Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Justin Stratton
Creative General Interest Green Key News Human Resources Professional Support Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Justin Stratton

Director of Green Key Pharma Receives RAPS’ Community Leadership Award
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Leadership + Management Pharma Worklife

Director of Green Key Pharma Receives RAPS’ Community Leadership Award

5 Tips to Ace Your Virtual Interview
Accounting + Finance Architecture + Engineering Creative Financial Services General Interest Healthcare Human Resources Information Technology Leadership + Management Legal Support Marketing Technology Pharma Professional Support

5 Tips to Ace Your Virtual Interview

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Clare Wright
General Interest Green Key News Professional Support Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Clare Wright

Green Key Unlocked: The Future of Administrative Support
General Interest Green Key News Human Resources Professional Support Worklife

Green Key Unlocked: The Future of Administrative Support

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Tara Potter
General Interest Green Key News Pharma

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Tara Potter

Green Key Unlocked: Hiring Trends in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction
Architecture + Engineering General Interest Green Key News

Green Key Unlocked: Hiring Trends in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Shandi Frederick
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Shandi Frederick

#GreenKeyUnlocked: What’s New in the Tech Job Market?
General Interest Green Key News Information Technology

#GreenKeyUnlocked: What’s New in the Tech Job Market?

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Jordan Boyd
General Interest Green Key News Information Technology

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Jordan Boyd

How to Negotiate a Job Offer
General Interest Worklife

How to Negotiate a Job Offer

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Digital Tools and Technologies in Pharma
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Marketing Technology Pharma

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Digital Tools and Technologies in Pharma

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Jordan Haas
General Interest Green Key News Pharma

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Jordan Haas

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Become a Medical Assistant
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Become a Medical Assistant

#WeAreGreenKey: Intern Spotlight on Olivia Stein
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare Worklife

#WeAreGreenKey: Intern Spotlight on Olivia Stein

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Brett Braterman
General Interest Green Key News Healthcare

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Brett Braterman

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Accounting Advisory Consulting
Accounting + Finance Financial Services

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Accounting Advisory Consulting

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Let’s Get Creative!
Creative General Interest Green Key News

#GreenKeyUnlocked: Let’s Get Creative!

How to Quit Your Job (The Right Way)
General Interest Worklife

How to Quit Your Job (The Right Way)

Green Key Unlocked: Let’s Talk Marketing Operations
General Interest Green Key News Information Technology Marketing Technology

Green Key Unlocked: Let’s Talk Marketing Operations

Latest Blog Posts
View All Posts
#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Justin Stratton

#WeAreGreenKey: Spotlight on Justin Stratton

Justin Stratton joined Green Key Resources as an Executive Recruiter in 2015. Six years later, he is a Staffing Manager...
Read More
Director of Green Key Pharma Receives RAPS’ Community Leadership Award

Director of Green Key Pharma Receives RAPS’ Community Leadership Award

Director of Green Key Pharma, Lindsey Summers, is a co-recipient of the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS) 2021 Community Leadership...
Read More
5 Tips to Ace Your Virtual Interview

5 Tips to Ace Your Virtual Interview

Whether you’re preparing for a phone screen or a final stage interview, virtual interviews are now an inevitable component of...
Read More