How To Sign Up For Apple's Health Studies

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Earlier this spring, Apple announced that they were launching three new research studies on hearing, heart health, and reproductive health in collaboration with universities. Now, there’s an app that will let you enroll.

The app is called Apple Research, and you have to update to OS 13.2 to install it. Besides the three new studies, the app also shows updates from the Apple Heart Study, whose results were recently published.

Through the app, I signed up for the hearing study. The app gives a brief description of the study and what’s required, and then after you enter your name and contact information, you’re presented with an informed consent form. This explains in more detail things like what the study is for, what will be asked of you, how long the study will last, and the risks and benefits of participating.

If you’ve ever participated in a study, this will be familiar. You can stop participating at any time. And even though Apple and their partners promise to keep your data secure, every study will tell you there is always a non-zero risk of a data breach. There’s also the risk of learning something about your health. For example, if participating in the study made me think and worry about my hearing, I might want to go get my hearing checked out, and that could end up costing me money or revealing health problems.

Meanwhile, even though the data will be used to develop products, the study does not pay participants, and we don’t get any share of any profits.

The app then requested access to my data collected by the Health app about environmental sound levels, headphone noise levels, and noise notifications.

When you’re enrolled in a study, the app presents you with “tasks.” On the first day, it wants me to answer demographic questions about myself, do a two-minute “study setup” task, and take a 10-minute initial survey. There’s also a ticker that lets me know how long I’ve been enrolled in the study (one day). Depending on which arm of the study I’m assigned to, I will either receive notifications, or not, prompting me to review my noise level data when my phone detects that I’ve been exposed to loud noise.

You can also re-read the consent form at any time, and the app links you to a privacy policy and frequently asked questions about the study. I feel well-informed, and the study’s tasks seem like they will be unobtrusive (so long as I keep wearing my watch and don’t share my account with other people, which they ask that you don’t.) If you’re interested in helping science (and Apple) learn about your health, it’s a reasonably smooth and convenient way to participate in a study.


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