Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why Apple’s New ResearchKit Could Have a Diversity Problem - BuzzFeed News

Of Apple's many announcements yesterday, the one with "perhaps the most profound change and positive impact," in CEO Tim Cook's words, is ResearchKit. Scientists will soon have unprecedented, real-time access to potentially tens of millions of people, who will participate in medical research by submitting data through their iPhones. Yet the very people who tend to be most affected by many of the diseases ResearchKit currently targets also tend to be the ones least likely to own an iPhone.
Apple iPhone owners are far from a representative group: They tend to be younger, better educated, and wealthier than the many millions of Americans who don't own one. This leaves some researchers wondering if the suite's user demographics will skew findings about how diseases work, who suffers, and how to cure them. What's more, there's no way to verify the accuracy of the data that users self-report.
"The Apple demographic is not all people," Ida Sim, co-director of biomedical informatics of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, told BuzzFeed News. "There are concerns about equity and lower socioeconomic populations, definitely. I think there needs to be special attention to reaching those groups so we don't overly restrict our sampling to people that are iPhone users."
More ...