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J Med Internet Res. 2017 Mar 16;19(3):e75. doi: 10.2196/jmir.6678.

Behavioral Indicators on a Mobile Sensing Platform Predict Clinically Validated Psychiatric Symptoms of Mood and Anxiety Disorders.

Author information

Cogito Corporation, Boston, MA, United States.
Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, Bentley University, Waltham, MA, United States.
VA Boston Healthcare System, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Boston, MA, United States.
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, United States.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Bipolar Clinic and Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, Boston, MA, United States.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Lab, Cambridge, MA, United States.



There is a critical need for real-time tracking of behavioral indicators of mental disorders. Mobile sensing platforms that objectively and noninvasively collect, store, and analyze behavioral indicators have not yet been clinically validated or scalable.


The aim of our study was to report on models of clinical symptoms for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression derived from a scalable mobile sensing platform.


A total of 73 participants (67% [49/73] male, 48% [35/73] non-Hispanic white, 33% [24/73] veteran status) who reported at least one symptom of PTSD or depression completed a 12-week field trial. Behavioral indicators were collected through the noninvasive mobile sensing platform on participants' mobile phones. Clinical symptoms were measured through validated clinical interviews with a licensed clinical social worker. A combination hypothesis and data-driven approach was used to derive key features for modeling symptoms, including the sum of outgoing calls, count of unique numbers texted, absolute distance traveled, dynamic variation of the voice, speaking rate, and voice quality. Participants also reported ease of use and data sharing concerns.


Behavioral indicators predicted clinically assessed symptoms of depression and PTSD (cross-validated area under the curve [AUC] for depressed mood=.74, fatigue=.56, interest in activities=.75, and social connectedness=.83). Participants reported comfort sharing individual data with physicians (Mean 3.08, SD 1.22), mental health providers (Mean 3.25, SD 1.39), and medical researchers (Mean 3.03, SD 1.36).


Behavioral indicators passively collected through a mobile sensing platform predicted symptoms of depression and PTSD. The use of mobile sensing platforms can provide clinically validated behavioral indicators in real time; however, further validation of these models and this platform in large clinical samples is needed.


behavioral symptoms; depression; mHealth; post-traumatic stress disorders

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