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Carnegie Mellon, Pitt Team to study psychosocial stress
Date:10/16/2007

PITTSBURGH Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, led by Pitt Psychology Professor Thomas Kamarck, are studying the effectiveness of a wrist-mounted instrument for measuring psychosocial stress exposure during the course of daily life.

Kamarck and his colleagues have received a $426,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the first year of their four-year project, which is part of a larger NIH initiative to study environmental factors that people encounter every day that may increase their risk of certain diseases.

The study will make use of the eWatch, a multisensor package about the size of a large wristwatch that has been developed by Daniel Siewiorek, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in Carnegie Mellons School of Computer Science, and Asim Smailagic, research professor in Carnegie Mellons College of Engineering. Both are co-investigators in the new study.

Previous studies have determined that people who report highly stressful lifestyles may develop higher rates of a variety of illnesses, ranging from viral infection to heart disease, but measuring exposure to stress is problematic.

However, Kamarck says traditional methods of measuring life stress dont quantify the duration or intensity of exposure effectively. For example, a husband and wife may react to the death of the same relative very differently, he said. Furthermore, stress is an ongoing fluctuating process. At what point does a stressor begin or end?

In the new study, Kamarck will outfit each participant with an eWatch, which can sense sound, motion, ambient light, skin temperature and other factors that provide clues about the wearers location, health status and current activity. Every 45 minutes over the course of five days, the eWatch will prompt wearers to take part in a 2-to-3-minute interview. The instrument will record their response to questions about their current activities, such as
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Contact: Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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