Handhelds Generate Positive Results for Clinical Trials
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 30, 2001

Increasingly, the medical community is turning to leading-edge handheld computing devices based on the industry-leading Palm OS platform to obtain better-quality research data than that available via traditional paper-based survey and observation methods. Three initiatives currently underway in Irvine, Calif., Toronto, Canada, and Chattanooga, Tenn., demonstrate the use of these devices in medical research.

University of California, Irvine, Transforms Palm Handhelds Into Electronic Diaries

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, are using Palm handhelds as electronic diaries, collecting scientific survey data in the field with test subjects. One test in progress involves tracking approximately 500 high school students and 220 college freshmen to determine what factors make teens vulnerable to using tobacco products. Research subjects receive Palm handhelds and fill out time-prompted surveys and questionnaires. Researchers at UC Irvine have found that participants are more willing to be honest with their computer diaries than with pen and paper. ``How people behave in a lab is not the same as in real life, and with the Palm handheld solution, we are able to catalog how people live in real life,'' said Larry Jamner, Department of Psychology and Human Behavior. ``Using Palm handhelds, we are getting closer to unlocking behavioral secrets.''

University of Toronto Monitors Bipolar Disorder

A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto and Toronto's Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre is focused on providing crucial insights into bipolar disorder -- a mental illness characterized by wide mood swings, from mania to depression -- by using state-of-the-art wireless communications. The study, funded by Bell University Labs, allows researchers to track mood variations in individuals with bipolar disorder as well as in healthy individuals.
The varied results are compared by the researchers. The study is conducted using QUALCOMM pdQ 1900s, a combination of a Palm OS based handheld device and a cellular phone. Twice daily, study participants are prompted by the pdQ to answer a brief questionnaire that appears on the screen. The questionnaire asks participants about their mood as well as a number of symptoms common in depression and mania. Upon completion of the questionnaire, the information is transmitted wirelessly to a central database. Unlike paper-based questionnaires, the pdQ solutions allows the researchers to track the exact time each questionnaire is completed and to contact the subjects quickly if a report is missing or incomplete. The researchers eventually hope to incorporate a Global Positioning System (GPS) chip, enabling them to factor environmental issues into their studies. The goal of this study is to determine if fluctuations in mood differ over time, either in frequency or extent, in people with bipolar disorder as compared to people who do not suffer from the condition.

Erlanger Medical Center Emergency Heart and Stroke Center Leverages Palm Devices in Research Trials

Clinical nurses and physicians active in patient research at the Erlanger Medical Center Emergency Heart and Stroke Center in Chattanooga are using Palm V handhelds to simplify the process of qualifying patients for research trials at the region's Level I Trauma Center. When a patient comes into the center, neurologists and research staff can reference the criteria of various research trials to see if a patient can be included in a research project that studies the prevention and management of strokes. Clinical nurses use the Palm handheld's infrared port to beam trial protocols and patient information to the physicians' handhelds to determine if a patient can be included in a study that could potentially save lives. It can take as long as 45 minutes to determine if a patient meets the criteria for a study, explain the clinical trial to the patient, obtain informed consent and get the patient randomized into the trial. By making the search for protocols in a busy emergency room obsolete, the use of Palm handhelds eliminates 10 to 15 minutes in this process.

© 2001 PDA cortex. All Rights Reserved
IT's Cutting Edge