Apple has published the first details of an ongoing Apple Women’s Health Study, using the iPhone to carry out longitudinal research on menstruation.
The project, which involves a team from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is based on data from 10,000 participants across the U.S. Users have been contributing their data using Apple’s Research app, starting late last year.
In a press release, Apple notes that:
“Through the Research app, the Apple Women’s Health Study allows for collection of a comprehensive set of cycle tracking and other health data, strengthened through participant surveys, from individuals across various stages of their life, varying races, and throughout all US states and territories.
Harvard Chan School researchers’ preliminary analysis of data, from a cohort of the first 10,000 participants to enroll in the study and respond to a demographics survey, validates women’s experiences of a wide range of menstrual cycle symptoms including some that are less commonly known or discussed.”
The most frequently tracked symptoms so far in the study include abdominal cramps, bloating, and tiredness. These were experienced by upward of 60% of participants who logged their symptoms. More than 50% reported acne and headaches, while 37% reportedly less widely recognized symptoms, such as diarrhea and sleep changes.
Large-scale research with Apple devices
“These findings take us a step further in validating and destigmatizing period symptoms,” said Dr. Sumbul Desai, Apple’s VP of Health. “Harvard Chan researchers are leaders in the field on this critically important subject, and we couldn’t be more proud to support and help scale their efforts through the Research app.”
There is still more work to be done before this research is completed and submitted for publication. However, this preview of findings shows that it is well underway. The initial findings were published the week of International Women’s Day, which took place Monday.
It’s another impressive demonstration of how the iPhone can be used as a research tool for large numbers of users. This is an area that Apple has been focused on for several years now, at least since it launched ResearchKit back in 2015. Since then, Apple’s Research efforts have included everything from this project to a study of heart rate tracking using Apple Watch. In all cases, it’s about using the massive number of Apple users to carry out far-reaching crowdsourced research projects.
Have you participated in any Apple Research projects? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.