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New Wristband Could Help Create Interventions for People with Addictions

A new study performed by researchers at the Washington State University (WSU) has helped develop a wearable device capable of detecting people’s stress, paving the way for potential interventions for people with addictions.

New Wristband Could Help Create Interventions for People with Addictions
A WSU research team found that wearable wristbands measure physiological responses to stress in real-time and real-world situations, providing a potential method to help people avoid slipping back into old behaviors. Image Credit: Washington State University.

The study was published in the journal JMIR Formative Research, on July 21st, 2021. The team observed that a wearable wristband is capable of instantly measuring physiological responses to stress due to real-world scenarios. This offers a potential technique to assist people from falling back into old behaviors.

Stress is considered to be the foremost reason for people with Alcohol Use Disorder, generally referred to as alcoholism, to relapse and begin consuming again. This was stated by Michael Cleveland, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development and corresponding author on the study.

We got measurements on these wristbands that have the same correspondence to stress that previous surveys and lab research found. Participants weren’t strapped into a large machine in a lab: these were real-world results that provide important, timely information.

Michael Cleveland, Study Corresponding Author and Associate Professor, Department of Human Development, Washington State University

Participants involved in the study wore the wristband throughout the day and answered the survey questionnaire over the phone, four times a day. The survey requested information on emotions, alcohol craving and the number of alcoholic drinks consumed.

Also, they could push a button equipped in the device when they feel highly stressed.

The survey results matched up very well with the physiological data we got from the wristbands — enough to give us confidence that the devices are effective in measuring stress in real-time.

Michael Cleveland, Study Corresponding Author and Associate Professor, Department of Human Development, Washington State University

The real-time feature leads to remarkable enhancement in helping people to avoid relapses as it permits additional technological enhancements in producing new interventions when required.

We’re working on a proposal to create a mobile app that would connect the wrist device to someone’s phone. When the wrist device detects stress, it would trigger the phone to intervene,” stated Cleveland.

The device could be programmed in such a way that enabled a pop-up option with notifications or launch an app that inquires to help people to cross a hard situation. Moreover, the team is working to integrate the device into a music app, which would enable playing music immediately after detecting a stressful situation.

Just recognizing stress is one of the best ways to limit the impact of a stressful situation. Many respondents in the study said they felt better just pushing the button on the wristband to note their stress level.

Michael Cleveland, Study Corresponding Author and Associate Professor, Department of Human Development, Washington State University

Similar to modern watches, the device can also quantify heart rate with higher reliability. Apart from the smartwatch technology, the device can also detect other responses to stress such as sweat gland activity, skin conductance and body temperature.

The study is a collaboration between a diverse team of specialists, including scientists from WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering for computer science and data crunching and the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

Everyone provides necessary expertise that will hopefully help a lot of people reduce the chances of relapse. Nobody could do this alone; it takes computer scientists, stress experts and people who know about alcohol and substance abuse treatment,” concluded Cleveland.

The study’s co-authors are Hassan Ghasemzadeh, Parastoo Alinia, and Ramesh Kumar Sah from WSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Michael McDonell and Sara Parent from the Floyd College of Medicine; and Patricia Pendry from the Department of Human Development.

The study was financially supported by Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program from WSU.

Journal Reference:

Alinia, P., et al. (2021) Associations Between Physiological Signals Captured Using Wearable Sensors and Self-reported Outcomes Among Adults in Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery: Development and Usability Study. JMIR Formative Research. doi.org/10.2196/27891.

Source: https://wsu.edu/

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