University of Bath School of Management University of Bath School of Management

Health tracker research among most popular for 2016

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Wearable fitness technology

Dr Lukasz Piwek's paper on wearable health technology was among the top 50 most downloaded articles on PLOS Medicine external website in 2016.

'The Rise of Consumer Health Wearables: Promises and Barriers' looked at the limitations of wearable trackers for monitoring health issues. These devices' popularity means health practitioners need to be ready for patients bringing wearable data to consultations, which could generate confusion.

Lukasz, part of the our Information, Decision and Operations (IDO) research division, concluded there are many factors involved in tracking health problems and that the technology alone is not enough.

There were 30 million downloaded articles from PLOS Medicine, a leading outlet in its field, in 2016.

Unfit for purpose

Fitness trackers are a popular type of wearable health technology. Over 20 million devices were sold worldwide in 2015, recording everything from heart-rate to the number of steps taken.

These gadgets are often bought in the belief they'll help the owner to lose weight and become fitter, making them happier in the process.

But part of Lukasz's research showed that many barriers exist, meaning this idea is not completely true.

For example, he concluded wearable trackers are mostly used by health-conscious people already keeping up with their own fitness. Other issues like charging time and data storage mean these devices, according to Lukasz, could 'drift into obscurity'.

This idea is backed up by surveys that show 32% of users stop wearing their device after six months and 50% after a year.

Lukasz's work has developed since his paper was published, with looking at why wearables succeed or fail and the data they find now key:

'We're currently working on two aspects related to wearable technology and health-related fitness apps.

'First we are mapping a wide range of factors that contribute to the success and failure of those devices being useful for behaviour change health interventions and why they have been failing to be adopted in a wider medical community so far.

'Second, we're using machine learning and other computational methods to evaluate "Big Data" generated by wearables, apps and smartphones to gain insights into population and individual-level health profiling.'

School of Management colleague Adam Joinson, Sally Andrews of Nottingham Trent University and Lancaster University's David Ellis also contributed to the research as part of the research collective, Psychology Sensor Lab external website.

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General Notes For Editors:

The School of Management is one of the UK's leading business schools. Currently ranked 1st for Student Experience (Times Higher Education 2015) and 1st for Business Studies (The Times & Sunday Times University Guide 2016), we are a leading centre for management research - placed 8th in the UK in the latest REF2014.

We are one of a select number of international business schools accredited by EQUIS, the European Foundation for Management Development's quality inspectorate and the Bath MBA has been accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) since 1976.

The centrality of research to teaching is an essential feature of all our programmes. The School offers a full range of programmes from undergraduate to postgraduate up to PhD level and post-experience programmes including the world-ranked Bath MBA. The School also provides tailored executive development programmes for middle and senior management.

The School of Management has a faculty of over 100 teaching and research staff, including visiting academics, with a professional support team of around 90 managerial and administrative staff. Research income averages £2 million per annum. There are approximately 2,400 students in total comprising some 150 MBA students, over 500 Master’s students, 250 full- and part-time research students, and over 1500 undergraduates following BSc degrees.