ResearchKit: Personalized Survey Response Options and Image Multi-Selectby Nickolas Whiting
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We at Applied Informatics recently launched Apple’s ResearchKit enabled study app – Phendo, developed for Columbia University’s Citizen Endo project. Phendo is a research study administered using momentary and daily level surveys to document users’ experience of living with the poorly understood, chronic disease endometriosis.
In developing the Phendo App, we had to develop some unique features given the requirements of the App.
One being the ability for study participants to specify individual items of interest they want to track as part of response to a survey question. For example the App tracks their daily exercise, medications, and food intake but instead of hard coded options, individuals can set the different foods, medications or exercise that apply to them and see these as options to track as part of the survey question response.
The second being, the ability to have a question with images as options and allow multi-select on these images. Lets take a closer look at how we achieved this.
Custom Profile Questions
The custom profile questions give participants the ability to personalize their survey responses, by adding their individual responses for surveys tracking their diet (Image 1a), medications (Image 2a) and exercise. In order to achieve this, a ResearchKit extension was developed (via ORKStepViewController), that allows any type of profile question response to be entered, processed through an API and then displayed back to the participant as selectable survey responses. (See Images 1b and 2b).
class MultiTextORKStepViewController: ORKStepViewController, MultiEntryDelegate
Image 1a. User specifies custom response to display for a survey question.
Image 1b. User entered custom responses are displayed when user answers the question
Image 2a. Custom responses for meds to track.
Image 2b. User entered meds become survey question response options.
The multi-select feature in Phendo is an upgraded version of the ORKImageChoiceAnswerFormat class that added two features required for Phendo. First, image choices no longer scale down and shrink when there are too many options to display in the view and instead allow scrolling horizontally. The second feature added was allowing for multiple image choices to be selectable rather than allowing only a single option.
The multi-feature is implemented using the following ORKImageChoiceAnswerFormat construct and is currently planned for contribution back into the ResearchKit framework.
- (instancetype)initWithImageChoices:(NSArray<ORKImageChoice *> *)imageChoices style:(ORKChoiceAnswerStyle)style useHorizontalScroll:(BOOL) horizontalScrolling;
Image 3. Images don’t shrink but scroll horizontally and are multi-selectable.
Phendo is an observational research study aimed at establishing a catalog of the signs and symptoms of endometriosis as experienced by people with endometriosis. The data collected will enhance understanding of the disease from a patient perspective.