Researchers are using popular activity tracker, Fitbit, in 21 clinical trials to focus on a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis and arthritis.

The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is using the Fitbit Charge HR activity trackers to help oncologists assess whether their cancer patients are active enough for chemotherapy.

Through the trial, the researchers hope to collect objective data to inform whether to give chemotherapy to patients, the more active of whom tend to respond better, in terms of both safety and efficacy, to the treatment.

In the trial, 30 patients will wear the wearable for two weeks and they will fill out questionnaires at two oncologist visits during the trial period, and again at a six month follow-up.

A study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is using  Fitbit wearables to prevent diabetes in teenagers. 30 of the 60 participants were given an Omron pedometer and a food diary while the other half will be given a Fitbit Ultra, which sends data to their electronic health record (EHR) as well as to a gamified mobile app.

The app has a number of features including tracking of physical activity and diet, goal setting and monitoring, tips on incorporating activity into everyday life, and interactive games related to physical activity and healthy diet. Participants will be evaluated on BMI, activity and blood pressure at the end of three months.

At the University Hospital Case Medical Centre in Cleveland, researchers are hoping to test the effect of the Fitbit as a component of an intensive weight management intervention. The researchers are giving 60 obese pediatric patients Fitbit Charge HR devices and enrolling them in a 12-week weight management class. Half of the children will receive their device at the start of the class and half will receive it at the end. During the 12-week period, participants in both groups will receive weekly check-in phone calls — but for the Fitbit group, they will have data to review during those calls.

Patients will be evaluated for activity, heart rate, BMI and other health metrics at the end of the class and at a 12-week follow-up.

The Arkansas Children’s Hospital is using the Fitbit to find connections between sleep, physical activity, and asthma in patients between the ages of 14 to 17 years old. In this study, the Fitbit Charge HR is more of a data collection device than part of the intervention.

While the Wake Forest University is using the Fitbit to identify patients at risk for surgical complications in a feasibility study funded by the National Cancer Institute. 38 patients were given a Fitbit Zip activity tracker before and after abdominal cancer surgery. The objective was to find out whether the activity data could be used to predict patients who were more likely to have complications from the surgery.

Lastly, the University of Wisconsin, Madison aims to promote physical activity for breast cancer survivors in a randomised trial of 100 breast cancer patients. 50 of the participants will be given a care plan that involves educational materials, a quality of life assessment, and a Fitbit. Half of them will only get the educational materials and the quality of life assessment.

This is a pilot for a larger trial, so the primary outcome is feasibility of recruitment. The secondary outcome is physical activity, as measured by an ActiGraph device.

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