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Wearable tech and smartphone apps to be used in new ADHD project

A new ADHD study led by researchers at King’s College London (KCL) will use real-time data collected from wearable technologies and smartphone apps.

The project – ART-CARMA (ADHD Remote Technology study of cardiometabolic risk factors and medication adherence) – is being funded by the European Commission, as part of TIMESPAN – a wider, multidisciplinary five-year programme featuring 17 partner institutions across the world. Launched on 1 April 2021, and encompassing academic institutions such as KCL as well as SMEs, its funding totals €6 million.

ART-CARMA’s branch of the programme is, according to King’s, the only one involving ‘new data collection’ and has been boosted by more than €1.5 million from the overall programme funding pot.

The ART-CARMA project itself will be focusing on data gathered over 12 months, with the overall, long-term aim in line with TIMESPAN’s focus on improving the management of cardiometabolic disease in adults with ADHD. It’s also hoped the findings of this particular study can help improve ADHD medication treatment personalisation and adherence.

Professor Jonna Kuntsi, ART-CARMA Lead and Professor of Developmental Disorders & Neuropsychiatry at King’s, said: “We have recently developed and piloted a new ADHD Remote Technology (‘ART’) system. ART-CARMA is an exciting new direction for this research programme: we can now apply the remote monitoring measures to a large clinical study of cardiometabolic risk factors and medication adherence in adults with ADHD.”

According to KCL, ADHD is a ‘common neurodevelopmental disorder’ that can persist into adulthood for a ‘significant portion of individuals’ after clinical diagnosis in childhood. It’s also believed that there is a ‘strong association’ and ‘shared genetic traits’ between adult ADHD and cardiometabolic diseases such as obesity, Type-2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Throughout the study, researchers will use different remote assessment technologies – included types that are ‘active’ and ‘passive’ for participants. The trial will encompass 300 adults with ADHD, with 150 of those recruited in London by King’s and the remaining cohort in Barcelona by partner institution Vall d’Hebron Research Institute.

Empatica’s EmbracePlus smart watch and a RADAR-base mobile app, which provides data streams and collects background sensor data, make up the ‘passive’ tech component. The ‘active’ monitoring will take the form of weight and blood pressure measurement, as well as cognitive tasks and a questionnaire completed through an app.

The tech will provide data from participants’ daily lives about the influence of ADHD medication and physical activity on cardiometabolic risks. It’s hoped this will provide ‘insights’ into ‘disease patterns’ and help to improve the safety and effectiveness of ADHD medication treatment and physical activity interventions for ‘patients with ADHD and co-occurring cardiometabolic disease’. Patient data on adherence to pharmacological treatment will also be collected over the 12-month period.

More information on TIMESPAN can be found on the dedicated website.