How your new health reports advance science

June 1, 2022

This article has not been updated recently

The ZOE Health Study app is an efficient daily reporting tool that not only stays on top of COVID, but also helps researchers discover the early signs of other major diseases, such as cancer and dementia. The latest update, available to all Contributors within the next few weeks, introduces a brand new way of reporting daily. 

What’s new in the daily report?

In order to access the new reporting, you need to make sure your app is up-to-date. From your chosen device, update to the latest version and tap 'Report Today' when you next open the app. This will guide you through the initial set-up, which includes establishing your ’Usual Self’.

Setting up your 'Usual Self' helps us to understand how you usually feel and will create your own unique health baseline.

When you first set this up, you’ll be asked about a range of symptoms and how often you experience them. 

This feature is a one-off process, designed to save you time in all future health reports, and currently only available to primary app users. 

What’s your Usual Self?

When you go to your GP, they usually ask you about your general health to get an idea of what’s normal for you to establish a baseline, from which they can then assess any new ailments. We’re doing the same thing with setting up your Usual Self. 

This allows us to measure regularly occurring symptoms, to reflect how you usually feel. Therefore if you have a chronic condition or daily-occurring symptoms, you don’t need to worry about reporting the same symptoms over and over again, as they’ll be in place already as part of your Usual Self.

This update allows you to let us know if your Usual Self symptoms differ or stay the same over time. You’ll also still be able to report any new symptoms you experience or COVID-19 test results.

The frequency of your symptoms

We ask for your frequency of symptoms to get a full picture of how often they occur. A symptom you experience daily will be part of your Usual Self. A symptom experienced less often will be registered but will not show as part of your Usual Self.

When initially setting up your usual self you’ll be able to indicate the impact on your quality of life using buttons, however when submitting your daily report the icons below will indicate impact on your quality of life.

The impact on your quality of life

In order to capture the impact on your quality of life, and the degree to which symptoms affect you, we’ve used the below icons and explain what they represent:

What happens after setting up your Usual Self?

Your reports are now personalised to your unique health, even if you’re managing a chronic health condition. The new report simply asks if you feel any different (either worse or better) than how you usually feel.

How do I fix an error in my Usual Self profile?

At the moment, you can't re-do or edit your Usual Self. If you notice an error, please report any missing symptoms or adjust the symptoms as needed when you complete your daily health report. For example, you can untick symptoms if you are not experiencing the symptom that day. We are planning to introduce the ability to edit your Usual Self in a future app release so please look out for updates in the app store.

Why is it important to keep logging?

Once you’ve set up your Usual Self as a one-off, you can continue to log your health daily as normal. If you have no new or changed symptoms, you can log your daily report with just one button - simple! 

It’s still important to report on normal days as all reports build a stronger picture of your overall health over time, and help you to keep track of your own symptoms and how they evolve. It also helps to highlight the early warning signs for illnesses.

If you have any new symptoms or changes to your Usual Self, you can click ‘I feel different from my Usual Self’, and will be taken to a screen leading you through options for how you’re feeling.

Logging a new symptom will lead you into a flow where you can select any new symptoms, and mark how severely they’re affecting you and how frequently.

If you’ve logged any new symptoms within the last week, or noted any less frequent symptoms when setting up your Usual Self, there will be a shortcut in your daily report to add or adjust these symptoms directly to save time.

How does my contribution help science?

Scientists around the world need your help to develop early warning signals for disease. With help from you and millions of other Contributors so far, scientists have found new symptoms and prediction models for COVID. 

Your daily logging builds up a rich, never-before-seen picture of your immune health and lifestyle to help scientists make groundbreaking new discoveries on how they affect development of major diseases like cancer, dementia and many more.

By spending 30 seconds a day to log your health and occasionally answer additional questions about your behaviours and habits, your contribution helps us to understand how immune health and lifestyle affect major diseases. 

You will be directly helping us to develop an early warning system for disease detection which will help to save lives.

How does my contribution help me?

The more regularly you log, the better we will understand your unique health profile. The development of disease will be unique to your lifestyle and immune health so we need to know what’s normal for you in terms of symptoms and your overall health baseline in order to predict when something might be signalling a change.

The more you complete your daily health reports, the better we’re able to detect early signs of disease in the future and offer personalised lifestyle advice for you as an individual.

Can I still log COVID vaccines and tests?

It’s crucial to continue logging your health every day to give us a better view of your overall health, log COVID test results and booster vaccinations so that we can keep monitoring the pandemic. This allows us to continue to be an early warning system for future variants and outbreaks, and understand the symptom patterns that may forewarn other major diseases, helping to aid disease reduction in the future.

To report COVID once you’ve set up your ‘Usual Self’, please select 'I feel different from my Usual Self'. You can then indicate the COVID symptoms by selecting ‘log new symptoms' and choosing where in the body the symptoms are occurring. We can identify your COVID infection through your new symptoms and if you have also logged a positive COVID test result.

What’s next for the ZOE Health Study?

After two years of the ZOE Health Study, almost five million Contributors have logged data that’s helped to save lives, and allowed our team to make critical scientific discoveries, which have been published in more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Together, we’ve already proven that community scientists at home can achieve more than anyone thought possible and we’re so excited to see how much more science we can discover in the future with your help!

We’re just getting started. There’s lots of other updates in the works at the moment, including the introduction of a calendar which will both help you track your own changes in symptoms, but could also be used as a reference to take to your doctor in the future.

Look out for updates and changes to the app as we continue on our mission to improve global health with the ZOE Health Study.

Help science and keep logging!

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