Crowd-sourced allergic rhinitis symptom data: The influence of environmental and demographic factors

Jeremy D. Silver, Kymble Spriggs, Simon Haberle, Constance Katelaris, Edward J. Newbigin, Edwin Lampugnani

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Allergic Rhinitis (AR) affects over half a billion people worldwide with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 5 individuals in developed countries. Although ambient pollen exposure is a causal factor in AR, the symptom-exposure relationship is typically not studied in the broader community but in small, well-characterised cohorts drawn from clinical populations. To identify relationships between AR symptoms in the community and a range of environmental factors, we used a database containing over 96,000 symptom score reports collected over a 3-year period (2014�2016) through freely available smartphone apps released in two Australian cities, Melbourne and Canberra. Ambient pollen levels and symptom scores were strongly related, with grass pollen explaining most of the symptom variation. Other factors correlated with higher symptom scores included temperature (R > 0.73) and wind speed (R > 0.75). In general, worse symptom scores were reported by younger participants, women, and those who had taken medication for AR in the preceding 24 h. The strength of this relationship varied between the two cities. Smartphone-based symptom surveys offer a cost-effective means of studying real-world risk factors for AR in a broader �extra-clinical� population.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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