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Accuracy of transdermal alcohol monitoring devices in a laboratory setting

Brobbin, Eileen, Deluca, Paolo, Coulton, Simon, Drummond, Colin (2023) Accuracy of transdermal alcohol monitoring devices in a laboratory setting. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 59 (1). Article Number agad068. ISSN 0735-0414. (doi:10.1093/alcalc/agad068) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:103457)

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The development of transdermal alcohol sensors (TASs) presents a new method to monitor alcohol consumption with the ability to objectively measure data 24/7. We aimed to evaluate the accuracy of two TASs (BACtrack Skyn and Smart Start BARE) in a laboratory setting. Thirty-two adults received a dose of ethanol 0.56 g/kg body weight as a 20% solution while wearing the two TASs and provided Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) measurements for 3.5 h postalcohol consumption. Pearson’s correlations and repeated measures analysis of variance tests were conducted on the peak, time-to-peak, and area under the curve data. Bland–Altman plots were derived. A time series analysis and cross-correlations were conducted to adjust for time lag. Both TASs were able to detect alcohol and increase within 20 min. BrAC peaked significantly quicker than Skyn and BARE. BrAC and Skyn peaks were negatively significantly correlated (r = −0.381, P = .035, n = 31), while Skyn and BARE peaks were positively significantly correlated (r = 0.380, P = .038, n = 30). Repeated measures analysis of variance found a significant difference between BrAC, Skyn, and BARE (F(1.946, 852.301) = 459.873, P < .001)). A time series analysis found when BrAC-Skyn and BrAC-BARE were adjusted for the delay to peak, and there was still a significant difference. Failure rates: 1.7% (Skyn) and 4.8% (BARE). Some evidence was obtained for TAS validity as both consistently detected alcohol. Failure rates and time lag show improvements in older device generations. However, neither TAS presented strong equivalence to the breathalyser even when the lag time was adjusted. With further testing and technology advancements, TAS could be a potential alcohol monitoring tool. Two of the newest TAS devices were worn in laboratory conditions for one afternoon to compare their accuracy of alcohol monitoring to a breathalyser. Findings suggest that the two TASs (BACtrack Skyn and SmartStart BARE) recorded significantly similar data postalcohol consumption, but not with the breathalyser.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/alcalc/agad068
Projects: PhD project
Uncontrolled keywords: alcohol, alcohol monitoring, alcohol treatment, transdermal alcohol sensor, wearable alcohol biosensor
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Q Science
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Funders: University of Kent (
National Institute for Health Research (
Depositing User: Simon Coulton
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2023 07:40 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2024 14:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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