TitleElectrodermal activity monitoring on inpatient detoxification unit
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsRos-Cucurull E., Xicola A., Palma-Álvarez R.F., Ribes A, Grau-López L., Lemus L, Arcos JLluis, Roncero C.
Conference Name30th ECNP Congress
Date Published09/2017

Introduccion: Changes on electrodermal activity implied variations of skin conductance. It has been proposed as one of the best indicator of changes in sympathetic arousal and emotional states. Its relevance has been explored in several clinical areas such as Epilepsy or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Substance use disorders are a public health concern, not only because its direct damage but also the medical and psychiatric commorbidities. It is not well known about factors that contribute to a better outcomes in detoxification process and abstinence achievement. Substance use disorders could increase arousal and anxiety levels during detoxification and withdrawal process trying to achieve abstinence. These signs and symptoms may affect electrodermal activity. We designed a preliminary study to validate its possible contribution in detoxification processes.

Aim: The aim of the present study is to assess the contribution of electrodermal activity registered activity in substance use disorder patients.

Methods: Ten substance use disorder patients from the Inpatient Detoxification Unit of Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona were included between April to June 2016. Patients understood and sign the written informed consent. The study was approved by the Ethical Committee of the hospital. Patients older than 18 years old were asked to participate being the only exclusion criteria presenting an acute psychotic disorder. Participants presented alcohol and other substance use disorders. During the detoxification process, patients wore an Empatia E4-Wristband during continuous period ranging from 10 to 50 hours (average of 33 hours). A trained psychiatrist follow the patients during its admission and performed all the therapy (including pharmacological adjustments). The electrodermal activity signals were collected by the wristband sensors and analyzed together with the medical reports. Moreover, to test the asymmetry phenomenon of electrodermal activity, one of the patients was wearing one wristband at each wrist.

Results: Patients who reported being anxious at some time periods, presented high scores of electrodermal activity. Furthermore, a decrease of electrodermal activity score were objectified in 15 minutes after the administration of an anxiolytic treatment. This decrease remained for an hour returning to a basal level ulterior. In several patients, increase of electrodermal activity values was detected during REM sleep period, except by one patient who received an hypnotic medication. Finally, regarding the patient that was wearing two wristbands, the asymmetry phenomenon was clearly observed, mostly in the dominant hand. Conclusions: This pilot study provides some initial clues regarding the potential of electrodermal activity measures as an additional monitoring resource for patients during detoxification process. The resolution of E4-wristbands was enough to correlate medical reports with electrodermal activity alterations, although the diversity and size of the patient sample is not enough to extract statistically significant results. Further research in this area should be performed in order to find conclusive and useful results.