NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health Newsletter - New Digital Tool Helps Researchers Personalize Results Report-Back

December 1, 2015

Volume 6, Issue 12

Excerpt: At the end of the day, community residents who participate in environmental health research projects want to know what their results are, what they mean, and what actions they can take to protect their health. In this day and age, with novel personal exposure sensors and biomonitoring studies, researchers face new challenges and responsibilities to report individual results to study participants. Scientists need better tools to communicate results ethically and effectively to study participants, especially when the health effects and exposure reduction strategies are uncertain. To bridge this gap, Julia Brody, Ph.D., executive director and senior scientist at Silent Spring Institute and an NIEHS grantee, is working with a transdisciplinary team to create and field-test a digital tool to communicate environmental health information to diverse participants.

The Digital Exposure Report-Back Interface, or DERBI, is a new tool for creating personalized chemical exposure reports so participants in environmental exposure studies can learn their own results and what they mean. DERBI was designed based on interviews with participants and researchers from eight studies that have reported personal results.

"Sometimes researchers are reluctant to report personal results for fear of worrying study participants too much, but we have found that people want to know their results and are able to understand that the health connections are uncertain for many of the chemicals under study," explained Brody. "Our goal is to provide a software framework and knowledge base that makes it practical for researchers to report personalized results even in large studies."

Digital Exposure Report-Back Interface (DERBI)