Opinion: Wearable device data need to represent all of us

As digital health technologies become increasingly important sources of data in biomedical research, the research community needs to double-down on working toward inclusion and equity across the research ecosystem.

The growing uptake of wearable devices has sparked enthusiasm among health researchers, and for good reason. The data generated by fitness and activity trackers offers an exciting new stream of metrics — physical activity, sleep, heart rate, and more — that may help researchers better understand the unique health needs of specific populations.

But the promise of wearable data comes with a familiar pitfall. The use of wearable devices is currently concentrated among young, white, college-educated, and higher-income users which could worsen the problem of underrepresentation in research without intentional work toward equitable access to and use of digital health technologies.

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