Field application of digital technologies for health assessment in the 10,000 families study

Bharat Thyagarajan, Heather H. Nelson, Jenny N. Poynter, Anna E. Prizment, Michelle A. Roesler, Erin Cassidy, Sara Putnam, Laura Amos, Andrea Hickle, Cavan Reilly, Logan G. Spector, Deann Lazovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: We field tested new-to-market portable, digital applications to assess hearing, pulmonary, and cognitive function to determine the feasibility of implementing these applications across a range of age groups in the pilot phase of the 10,000 Families Study (10KFS), a new Minnesota family-based prospective cohort study.

METHODS: We followed manufacturer recommended protocols for audiometry (SHOEBOX Inc), spirometry (NuvoAir), and the digital clock drawing test (dCDT; Digital Cognition Technologies Inc).

RESULTS: These digital devices were low cost and readily implemented in a 2.5-hour health fair visit with minimal training (2-3 hours) of study staff. To date, we have performed these measurements on 197 eligible 10KFS participants during an in-person clinic visit. A total of 37 children (age 4-17 years), 107 adults (18-64 years), and 53 seniors (≥65 years) were eligible to undergo hearing and pulmonary assessments. Children were less likely to successfully complete the hearing test (76%) compared with adults (86%) and seniors (89%). However, successful completion of the pulmonary assessment was high across all groups: 100% of children and seniors and 98% of adults. The dCDT was performed among those over the age of 40, and completion rates were 92% for those aged 41-64 and 94% for those ≥65 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Our field testing indicates these digital applications are easy and cost-effective to implement in epidemiologic studies.

IMPACT: Digital applications provide exciting opportunities to collect data in population studies. Issues related to data privacy, data access, and reproducibility of measurements need to be addressed before deploying digital applications in epidemiologic studies. See all articles in this CEBP Focus section, "Modernizing Population Science."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-751
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Association for Cancer Research.


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