University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Advocate Aurora Health researchers are studying COVID-19’s impact using a smartphone app. Their goal is to help stem transmission of the virus and its new variants, monitor vaccination efforts, and ultimately improve health outcomes for people living in the U.S. and around the world.
But they need everyone’s help to reach their goal, so researchers are asking people everywhere to participate in the COVID-19 Citizen Science Study. The study is open to all people with or without COVID-19 infections, who are over 18 years of age, own a smartphone and download the “UCSF Eureka Research” mobile app. The app makes it easy, quick and safe for participants to complete brief health survey responses about COVID-19, such as symptoms, medications, vaccinations and social distancing practices.
The initial survey can be completed in about 15 minutes, and weekly updates only take about 5 to 10 minutes to finish. Participants may also elect to provide data from their electronic health record or activity and geolocation data from their phone.
“We’re grateful to every individual partnering with us on this study,” said Dr. Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, principal investigator and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF’s School of Medicine. ”Working together, we can improve our understanding and monitor COVID-19’s impact on communities. More than 65,000 citizen scientists have already joined to help us identify which COVID-19 symptom clusters are most likely to signal infection and severity; learn what puts people at more or less risk, including vaccines; and much more.”
Advocate Aurora Health, a leading health system in the Midwest, is inviting patients to participate in the study and share health information that will advance knowledge of COVID-19 transmission patterns in the upper midwestern region of the U.S.
“Our patient base comprises a diverse population of 3 million people living in urban, suburban and rural communities across Illinois and Wisconsin,” said Denise Angst, PhD, RN, vice president of Advocate Aurora Research Institute and study co-investigator. “Their contribution to this project is critical to ensuring that data used to inform public health decisions and improve treatment is inclusive of diverse patient populations and translates to better health outcomes for all.”
Participant data enables researchers to analyze multiple aspects of COVID-19’s impact. Project priorities include monitoring COVID-19 symptom patterns to provide early warning of new transmission hot spots and communities at risk, assessing the effectiveness of prevention strategies and vaccinations, developing processes to predict health outcomes, and improving people’s access to public resources and testing.