New Waterford project aims to study cancer patients' mental health with AI research

The study will detect changes in mental health status in order to initiate supports and improve a cancer patient's quality of life and aftercare 
New Waterford project aims to study cancer patients' mental health with AI research

Researchers will monitor data secured from cancer patients' phones as a basis for their study. 

Researchers based in Co Waterford are teaming up with international experts to help cancer patients' mental health after their diagnosis using artificial intelligence (AI). 

The research group, along with four other EU-funded teams, is teaming up to advance a ground-breaking research project which uses AI to predict depression in cancer patients. 

In an attempt to improve their quality of life post-treatment, researchers at the Walton Institute in Waterford IT will monitor cancer patients with their phones for signs of depression as part of the Faith study programme. 

Much of the study's basis has been previously established by researchers at the Walton Institute for the Federated Artificial Intelligence solution for monitoring mental Health status after cancer treatment (Faith) project. 

The factors under examination from data extracted from the patients phone include: 

  • The activity of the patient;
  • The patients' nutrition; 
  • Sleep patterns experienced by the patient; 
  • Changes in the patient's voice.

The study will detect changes in mental health status in order to initiate supports and improve a cancer patient's quality of life and aftercare. 

Breast and lung cancer patients and oncologists based at the nearby Waterford hospital, UPMC Whitfield, are taking part in the study. 

The hospital is the main location for the pilot test trial site and will actively assist the initial testing phase of the project. 

"We have a motto — 'We don't work in silos!' The Cluster was formed to share ideas and understanding amongst the engaging projects," said Tom Flynn, a research lead from the collective AI project.  

They were brought together by common interest in the issues of mental health, well-being, depression, and patient support. 

"Collectively, the Cluster shares knowledge and understanding through the adaptation of a highly user-centric approach. Thus, in particular, the beneficiary will be the patient,” he said.

Faith’s acting project coordinator, Phillip O’Brien, said: “At the kick-off meeting for Faith I repeated a famous Henry Ford quote: ‘Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success.’ 

"This ethos is at the core of the project and is evidenced in the creation of this cluster. 

"Collaboration, rather than just a buzzword, is the catalyst for real impact.”

The Walton Institute is the lead organiser of the study's delivery and is heading up all technical oversight and management of the project for the Faith consortium.  

Another research group taking part, TFC Research Innovation Limited, is coordinating the Walton Institute as part of the expert cluster progressing the research. 

In coordination, the different groups aim to collect and understand the feedback from cancer patients participating in the study.  

According to the research group, as many as one in five cancer sufferers experiences depression and mood change post-diagnosis.

The Faith project aims to boost the adoption of best practices of participatory research in AI for healthcare and well-being for the benefit of EU citizens.

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