Real-time sensing of war's effects on wellbeing with smartphones and smartwatches

M Mofaz, M Yechezkel, H Einat, N Kronfeld-Schor, D Yamin, E Shmueli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background
Modern wars have a catastrophic effect on the wellbeing of civilians. However, the nature of this effect remains unclear, with most insights gleaned from subjective, retrospective studies.

Methods
We prospectively monitored 954 Israelis (>40 years) from two weeks before the May 2021 Israel-Gaza war until four weeks after the ceasefire using smartwatches and a dedicated mobile application with daily questionnaires on wellbeing. This war severely affected civilians on both sides, where over 4300 rockets and missiles were launched towards Israeli cities, and 1500 aerial, land, and sea strikes were launched towards 16,500 targets in the Gaza Strip.

Results
We identify considerable changes in all the examined wellbeing indicators during missile attacks and throughout the war, including spikes in heart rate levels, excessive screen-on time, and a reduction in sleep duration and quality. These changes, however, fade shortly after the war, with all affected measures returning to baseline in nearly all the participants. Greater changes are observed in individuals living closer to the battlefield, women, and younger individuals.

Conclusions
The demonstrated ability to monitor objective and subjective wellbeing indicators during crises in real-time is pivotal for the early detection of and prompt assistance to populations in need.
Original languageEnglish
Article number55
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications Medicine
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 17 Apr 2023

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