Friday, 20th July 2018
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RTÉ, Science Foundation Ireland and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics are calling on people all around Ireland to download a new app called How Are You Ireland? which is designed to assess the mood and stress levels of the nation. As part of its ongoing broadcasting partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, RTÉ is supporting the scientists behind the How Are You Ireland? app by encouraging volunteers to take part.

The app is part of a major research study being conducted by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics. It was announced on The Late Late Show by asking the public to download the app and sign up to take part in this groundbreaking research project. It’s hoped that the research will give valuable insight into the wellbeing of the Irish population.

The results of the survey will then feature in an RTÉ two part television programme about stress and pressure presented by writer and Irish Times columnist Jennifer O’Connell and featuring neuroscientist Professor Ian Robertson to be screened later this summer. The working title of the two part programme is Stressed. The documentaries are being produced by stopwatch television and Firebrand productions.

Professor Brian Caulfield, a director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, hopes that the app will bring a large new cohort of people into the research process, and give them each some useful information about their health.

Professor Caulfield said, "As far as we know this is a world first in research – an app that collects health data for the benefit of users and publicly-funded researchers, and not for commercial use by tech companies. Right now every owner of a smartphone or step counting device is giving away valuable health data without necessarily getting any meaningful information about their health in return. The more people we can encourage to download and use this app for the four weeks of the study, the richer the information we can give back to citizens about their own lifestyle and that of the nation as a whole. This project has the potential to provide fascinating and valuable insights into how we live and how it affects how we feel in Ireland. It could also change the way research is done in the future.”

RTÉ's Genre Head for Cláracha Gaeilge, Education and Science Colm O'Callaghan said, "RTÉ is delighted to partner with Science Foundation Ireland and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics to create a body of work that will form the basis of two new television programmes about stress and anxiety presented by Jennifer O'Connell. We'd be very grateful if people could take time out of their busy day to help us with this research. Whether you're on the bus or train on the way to or from work, or whatever time suits you best during the day, we'd appreciate if you'd take a minute to answer five simple mood related questions. You can download the How Are You Ireland? app from this Friday and help us take the first step towards getting a better picture of the stress levels and moods affecting the nation."

Speaking about the study, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications for Science Foundation Ireland, said, "Mental health issues, which so many people in Ireland experience, can have severe physical and emotional impacts, with significant human, social and economic costs. Science Foundation Ireland is excited to be supporting this new research partnership, along with our SFI Research Centre Insight and its world-class researchers in data analytics. We look forward to seeing the fruits of this partnership, which will utilise cutting-edge technologies to learn more about how the Irish public is coping with modern life. We are also delighted to continue our work with RTÉ to ensure that people in Ireland can engage in discussions about scientific research and discovery, and the impacts it can have on our lives.”

The app will be available to download from Friday 2 February. All interested participants can download the app and start the survey anytime up until Friday 16 February.

The study will run for four weeks. At the end of the survey, participants will be provided with feedback as to how aspects of their health compares with the rest of the Irish population.

Each day volunteers will be asked, via their phones, to rate various aspects of their health on a scale of 1 to 10. Participants will be asked to rate their stress levels, their sleep quality, their mood and their fatigue levels for the day. These five daily mood related questions should not take more than one minute to complete. Then once a week, participants will be also be asked another set of health related questions. These questionnaires should take no more than five minutes to complete.

Another aspect of the study is the data that volunteers can supply by allowing access to various apps on their phone such as step counters and sleep monitors (for example the Apple Health app or a Fitbit app).

For further information and to download the app visit: http://www.rte.ie/howareyou

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