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Yli-Piipari quoted in Washington Post on validity of conducting research studies with mobile phones

Kathryn Kao

June 7, 2016

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Conducting research using a mobile phone or other devices can affect the accuracy and validity of research studies, said Sami Yli-Piipari, an assistant professor of kinesiology, in a recent article in the Washington Post. Not only are the devices unreliable, but researchers can do very little to prevent participants from entering fake data.

Sami Yli-Piipari

An ongoing study at Stanford is part of the first generation of projects powered by ResearchKit, a set of free tools introduced by Apple in early 2015. Since then, more than 100,000 people have signed up, generating so much information that most researchers have only analyzed a tiny fraction of the results.

Unfortunately, the ResearchKit approach raises issues about participants' privacy and data security, said Yli-Piipari, who is not part of the Stanford team. Furthermore, translating the knowledge gained from the study into usable advice for people reluctant to exercise poses another challenge.

"We've made a huge step forward in terms of being able to start seeing the variety of activities people are doing in their lives, but we still need more accurate information—and to do more research on how we can actually use this data to change behaviors," said Yli-Piipari.

Yli-Piipari is a specialist in physical fitness and obesity prevention. His areas of focus include the role of school physical education, school physical activity and school physical activity policies on children's health and academic achievement. In his health promotion efforts, Yli-Piipari applies the latest technological innovations to motivate, educate and engage children and adolescents' in health-enhancing physical activity.

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