With today’s availability of wearable technology, we are able to take a more hands-on approach to monitoring health symptoms in relation to flight.  So we built the Flight Health app to capture real-time data on how flight may affect  health, including how flight impacts heart rate and rhythm, cognitive functioning, breathing, oxygen saturation at altitude, and health symptoms.

How We Used the App

While not part of an active study currently, the app was available for free for any interested flight attendant, pilot, former crew member, or passenger with an iPhone and would be downloaded from the Apple app store.

Flight crew using the app contributed to our data collection by tracking flight(s) on the iPhone starting from 2 hours before departure, during the flight, and within 2 hours after landing. Tracking included answering questions about health, including sleep quality, and cognitive tests. Those with an Apple watch could also sync the watch with the Flight Health app.

Flight Crew Participation Invaluable

Flight crew participation added a wealth of information to the little known about health before, during, and after flying. Our hope is that this research will continue to shed light on subtle, difficult to detect flight-related changes in health markers, sleep, and mood that could affect the risk of diagnosable health outcomes.

Rigorous Research Standards and Confidentiality

As a research initiative of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, we adhere to strict ethical and privacy procedures.  All research activity conducted is reviewed and approved by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure maintenance of data security, confidentiality, and compliance with ethical guidelines for human subjects research.  All data is encrypted and transmitted securely to a password-protected storage database. Harvard researchers are trained in handling highly confidential data and take great care to protect the privacy of information.