April/May Challenge of the Month Results

Last month, we posed a MISST-related research ethics dilemma and asked for your expert opinion on how you would identify risks for the following study:

Steve has agreed to participate in a study that involves wearing a SenseCam, a GPS tracking device and a smart phone for one week. To begin the study, he completes a questionnaire about his health behaviors. On day 1 through day 7 he wears the camera around his neck on a lanyard, puts his smart phone in his pocket and attaches the GPS to his belt. The wearable camera and GPS store information during the one-week period. The smart phone is set up to watch Steve’s activity level in real time and will prompt him to move around if he’s been sitting for too long. At the end of the week, he meets with members of the research team to turn in the three devices. At that time, Steve completes another questionnaire and is given an opportunity to review images that were taken while wearing the SenseCam.

The pictures show, for example, his path to work, some people in the lab where he works and trips to the grocery store. He sees a few images that he considers private and chooses to delete those but, otherwise, nothing stands out. He has completed the study.

1. The GPS device is used to track the precise location (i.e., map coordinates) of a person, as well as
where participant travels. It is the size of a small pager and is worn on a person’s belt. However, GPS data can also be collected from a person’s cell phone.
2. A SenseCam is an outward facing wearable camera with a ‘fisheye’ lens that automatically takes photographs of what the person sees.
3. A smart phone is used as a mobile device to access e-mail and the internet and can be used in health research to monitor and/or intervene (e.g., behaviors, moods).

Results (n=11)

The study risks include:
Physical: 33.3%
Psychological: 55.6%
Economic: 55.6%
Legal: 88.9%
Social: 88.9%

The study benefits appear to be greater than the risks of harm to participants.
Strongly disagree: 0%
Disagree: 33.3%
Not sure: 44.4%
Agree: 22.2%
Strongly agree: 0%

I replied to this CORE Challenge as a/an:
Researcher: 44.44%
IRB member: 11.11%
IRB support staff: 22.22%
Participant: 0.00%
Clinician: 0.00%
Technologist: 0.00%
Other: 22.2%

This scenario is from an actual study that prompted our team to develop the CORE initiative. We have conducted a few studies since being introduce to studies involving wearable pervasivie sensing technologies. The purpose of our research is to inform how we as researchers design our studies and, as members of the IRB community apply regulations and ethical principles. Please take a look at our paper published in Translational Behavioral Medicine to learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27688250

Stay tuned for another ethics challenge scenario for studies using MISST technologies very soon! If you have ideas for our next challenge, please tell us your ideas in the comment section below and don’t forget to post questions about your own research on the CORE forum!

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