App May Detect Depression via Everyday Phone Use

the MPR take:

While previous research has shown that custom-built mobile devices can indirectly gauge mental health using sensors, Dartmouth College’s Dartmouth Networking and Ubiquitous Systems Laboratory is the first to use standard smartphone features with an app (called StudentLife) to monitor patterns in stress, depression, and loneliness. In evaluating the app’s efficacy, 48 students downloaded the app onto their Android smartphones and allowed the app to collect data on the phone’s motion and location, the timing of calls and texts, and nearby conversations for 10 weeks. Data patterns collected from the app correlated with changes in stress, depression, and loneliness as reported by the students in surveys on mood and mental health; for example, a decline in exposure to face-to-face conversations indicated depression in the study. It is not clear if the collection of this type of data by clinicians would be required to adhere to the same HIPAA data privacy regulations as standard mental health surveys, but lead project researcher Professor Andrew Campbell says that the information could provide a more complete picture of a patient’s mental health status to assist in interventions and treatment.

App May Detect Depression via Everyday Phone Use
App May Detect Depression via Everyday Phone Use

Motion, audio, and location data harvested from a smartphone can be analyzed to accurately predict stress or depression. Many smartphone apps use a device's sensors to try to measure people's physical well-being, for example by counting every step they take. A new app developed by researchers at Dartmouth College suggests that a phone's sensors can also be used to peek inside a person's mind and gauge mental health.

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