Evidation launches a large study to develop digital biomarkers for chronic pain

By Laura Lovett

Evidation Health just announced the launch of a 10,000 person chronic pain study, called the DisCover Project. The research aims to quantify chronic pain and develop digital biomarkers for chronic pain severity, flare ups and quality of life by using activity trackers, health apps, and other more traditional data points. 

"We've designed and built the first ever large-scale digital study in chronic pain. We hope it opens up new and interesting questions,” Jessie Juusola, principal investigator of the study, told MobiHealthNews in an email.  

The study will examine data points including activity behavior data from wearables, the patients’ demographics, medical histories, pain diaries, quality of life measures, voice and speech data, and sleep. Participants are expected to bring their own wearable. The study is expected to include data from Apple Watches, Garmins and Android Watches. Researchers will then use machine learning to identify digital signals tied to health outcomes. The longitudinal case-control observational study will look at data from 4,000 participants in the control group who do not suffer from chronic pain and data from 6,000 patients in the case group that live with chronic pain. 

“The widespread use of wearables, sensors and digital health tools gives us an opportunity to quantify the real lives of patients who suffer from chronic pain — now a critically important public health condition in the US,” Deborah Kilpatrick, CEO of Evidation Health, said in a statement. “We are running this large-scale pain study to gain powerful insights on how behavioral factors are associated with health outcomes of chronic pain patients.”

The study is anticipated to kick off on February 15 and expected to end in March of 2019. 

In order to be part of the study, participants must have self-reported chronic pain and experience moderate pain (at least a four on the numeric pain rating scale). Participants in the control group can not have self-reported having any chronic pain. 

“Novel research methodologies will enable the quantification of real-life outcomes in chronic pain across thousands of patients," Dr. Christine Sang, director of Translational Pain Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a consultant to the study, said in a statement. “If successful, the real-life insights on individual patient-level experiences can inform our efforts to bring relief to the striking number of people with diverse experiences of chronic pain.”