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Wearable sensor may help to assess stress in healthcare workers

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Healthcare professionals fighting Covid-19 from the frontlines spending many hours to tackle the situation and putting themselves at mental health risk, now a new study suggests that a wearable biosensor may help monitor stress experienced by healthcare workers.

Previous studies have found a high prevalence of stress and burnout has been reported among healthcare professionals. The current, findings, published in the Physiological Reports, aimed to assess the validity of a wearable biosensor to monitor and manage stress experienced by healthcare professionals.

“The current tools utilised to quantify such metrics like smartwatches or questionnaires are not in keeping with doctors’ busy lifestyles and do not comply with infection prevention policies,” said study senior author Damian M. Bailey from the University of South Wales in the UK.

For the results, the research team picked 12 healthy male volunteers and they completed an incremental exercise protocol to volitional exhaustion, which aimed to induce physiological stress in a graded manner.

A wearable consumeragrade biosensor called the ‘VitalScout, was used to measure stress, energy expenditure, respiration rate, and activity throughout the exercise protocol.

In the study, a wearable biosensor that is placed on the chest provided an accurate assessment of physiological parameters–heart rate and respiration rate–that are used to calculate stress.

Furthermore, the biosensor’s metrics correlated strongly to those obtained using breathing analyses, and they could discriminate changes associated with stress from changes related to increased physical activity.

“Given that increased stress can subsequently impact both the healthcare profession and the patient in care, we believe the wearable biosensor used in this study is a useful tool to monitor and manage stress experienced by healthcare professionals,” Bailey said.

Biosensors have the potential to measure stress and deserve further research in the pre-hospital environment, the study noted.


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