We’re delighted that the first scientific paper from #BritainBreathing has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. This paper reports on our findings for the first season of #BritainBreathing, which took place in 2016. Our primary aim during this season was to work out if asking people to submit their allergy symptoms via the #BritainBreathing app was a reliable approach to gather data on the allergy symptoms experienced across the whole population in the UK.
After analysing the data that you submitted through the app, we found that #BritainBreathing did work as we hoped in providing a reliable method of collecting data about respiratory allergy symptoms. This finding was supported by the strong relationship between the reported well-being of app users and the number of seasonal allergy prescriptions issued (i.e. the times when people told us they experienced more severe allergy symptoms corresponded to the periods when more prescriptions for seasonal allergies were being dispensed).
Our 2016 data showed two peaks of hay fever symptoms, the first in April which is likely due to tree pollens, and a second peak in June, which is likely due to grass pollens. Additionally, we found that nasal symptoms reported by app users (ie. if they had a blocked up nose) were the factor most strongly related to overall reported feelings of well-being. Those who has taken medication that day for their allergies still reported feeling worse compared with people who hadn’t taken medication.
A huge thank you to all of you who have downloaded the #BritainBreathing app and sent us information on your symptoms. Publishing articles in scientific journals is one of the main ways in which scientists tell each other about their research and make a permanent record of their findings. Through publishing papers like this, all of your work in sending us through your allergy symptoms is helping both the #BritainBreathing team and other scientists studying allergies to understand more about how and why they occur. This is the first of many papers which will hope will result from the #BritainBreathing project and shows that our project is making a real difference to science.
The paper is free for everyone to read. If you would like to learn more details about our findings, you can access it here.
Full reference for paper
Vigo, M. et al. 2017 Britain Breathing: using the experience sampling method to collect the seasonal allergy symptoms of a country. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association ocx148 doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocx148