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Currently accepted at: JMIR Research Protocols

Date Submitted: Feb 25, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: Feb 27, 2018 - Apr 12, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)

This paper has been accepted and is currently in production.

It will appear shortly on 10.2196/10215

The final accepted version (not copyedited yet) is in this tab.

Establishing Digital Biomarkers for Occupational Health Assessment in Commercial Salmon Fishermen: A Mixed-Methods Study Design

  • Rachel Elizabeth Wilbur; 
  • Jacob Spencer Griffin; 
  • Mark Sorensen; 
  • Robert Daniel Furberg



Commercial salmon fishing in Alaska is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Between 1992 and 2008, the average annual industry mortality rate was 128 deaths per 100,000 workers, and despite an increase in industry regulations, there has not been a significant decrease in mortality rate since 2000. Unpredictable fishing openings and fierce competition for limited resources result in periods of intense sleep deprivation and physical strain during the short commercial salmon seasons in Alaska. We hypothesize that the combined effect of sleep deprivation, intense physical workload and significant short-term chronic stress may be deleterious to health in both the short and long-term among commercial salmon drift gillnet fisherman in Alaska. The study design utilizes mixed methods and includes biometric monitoring consisting of heart rate variability, respiration, and movement collected via a personal wearable biometric device in combination with observational data on activity, including duration of sleep, weather, catch, and financial gain, as well as the collection of salivary cortisol. As such, the study will provide a holistic assessment of individual stress on multiple simultaneous timescales: immediately and continuously through the personal wearable biometric device, on the minute-hour level through the multiple daily collections of salivary cortisol, and by the hour-day through the use of observational data collection. We anticipate that the use of a biometric device will be crucial in establishing measures of stress and physical activity within a population and environment uniquely challenged by physical isolation, strong weather patterns, and the potential for significant financial gain by fisherman. The potential exists for individuals engaged long-term in the fishing industry, through repeat and extended exposure to periods of intense sleep deprivation and chronic stress, to be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.


Please cite as:

Wilbur RE, Griffin JS, Sorensen M, Furberg RD

Establishing Digital Biomarkers for Occupational Health Assessment in Commercial Salmon Fishermen: A Mixed-Methods Study Design

JMIR Research Protocols. (forthcoming/in press)

DOI: 10.2196/10215


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