Waterford IT scientists use cancer patients' smartphones for early diagnosis of depression

Scientists in Waterford are leading a research project to help predict depression earlier in cancer patients via their smartphones.
Waterford IT scientists use cancer patients' smartphones for early diagnosis of depression
Yahya Almardeny, Gary McManus, Philip O’Brien, and Christine O’Meara, of the FAITH team, of the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG), based in Waterford IT.

Irish scientists are leading a research project to help predict depression earlier in cancer patients, via their smartphones and via trusted medical markers.

The researchers, at TSSG, in Waterford IT, want to improve survivors’ quality of life and treatment aftercare. They are conducting the €5m, EU-funded FAITH project with cancer hospital specialists in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus.

Gary McManus, project co-ordinator, said: “We will monitor individuals to cast a wide net over their health data, and produce cancer care-related findings that can be used for long-term cancer-care health risk and symptom minimisation for patients.

“FAITH has trial sites in Madrid, Waterford, and Lisbon. FAITH is potentially life-changing,” said Mr McManus, of the Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG), at WIT.

One in five cancer sufferers experiences depression and mood change post-diagnosis. The FAITH app will be an early warning system for doctors and allow them to be proactive, instead of reactive. As soon as there is a negative shift in a patient’s mental wellbeing, the app will trigger an alert.

Data sources, such as a patient’s activity, outlook, sleep, appetite, and voice tone are monitored, with additional data gleaned through a series of daily questions.

Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, director of research at TSSG, said: “Cancer and post-cancer care will affect all of us during our lifetime. FAITH is a passion project for the team and one TSSG are delighted to be co-ordinating as we aim to work on more projects that will benefit the society of the future.”

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