A new study from a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco will carry out an ambitious nationwide study of LGBT populations using an iPhone app.
Traditional notions of sexuality have been changing at a rapid rate over the past 50 years. Traditional medicine, however, has a lot of catching up to do. According to a report from BuzzFeed News, a team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco is about to begin the largest nationwide health study of LGBT communities ever. And the best part, is that they don’t need any new tools or equipment for the study – a survey containing health questions will be sent straight to peoples’ iPhones.
The PRIDE study uses an iPhone app that connects with Apple’s new ResearchKit program. The study hopes to assess the specific health needs of LGBT patients across the U.S., and will ask participants survey questions about a range of health risk factors including HIV/AIDS, smoking, obesity, depression, and cancer.
The research team is hopeful that the iPhone’s large user base will catch on to the PRIDE Study app, and that the data they collect will provide insight into some of the most understudied populations in the country.
Mitchell Lunn, PRIDE Study co-director and UCSF clinical research fellow said that the study seeks to shine light on the relationship between LGBT status, and both mental and physical health. The app made its debut in June, just days before San Francisco’s annual Pride parade.
Lunn noted that Apple employees were excited about the app, especially given Apple’s public stance on supporting equal rights for LGBT Americans. The study combines a ubiquitous technology with a dangerously understudied population, and its directors are hoping that it can help fill in the informational gaps.
For the rest of 2015, the PRIDE Study app will collect survey data about smoking habits, mental health, and substance use. Respondents also will have some say in what questions will wind up in the final study.
Even though ResearchKit’s software is still an unproven medical research tool, the team is hopeful that they will be able to gather enough data to finish a comprehensive study. If they succeed , we could start seeing more medical research carried out by smart surveys in the near future.