Digital phenotyping and the COVID-19 pandemic: Capturing behavioral change in patients with psychiatric disorders

Raj R. Jagesar, Mila C. Roozen, Inge van der Heijden, Nessa Ikani, Anna Tyborowska, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Henricus G. Ruhe, Iris E.C. Sommer, Martien J. Kas, Jacob A.S. Vorstman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented societal changes limiting us in our mobility and our ability to connect with others in person. These unusual but widespread changes provide a unique opportunity for studies using digital phenotyping tools. Digital phenotyping tools, such as mobile passive monitoring platforms (MPM), provide a new perspective on human behavior and hold promise to improve human behavioral research. However, there is currently little evidence that these tools can reliably detect changes in behavior. Considering the Considering the COVID-19 pandemic as a high impact common environmental factor we studied potential impact on behavior of participants using our mobile passive monitoring platform BEHAPP that was ambulatory tracking them during the COVID-19 pandemic. We pooled data from three MPM studies involving Schizophrenia (SZ), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Bipolar Disorder (BD) patients (N = 12). We compared the data collected on weekdays during three weeks prior and three weeks subsequent to the start of the quarantine. We hypothesized an increase in communication and a decrease in mobility. We observed a significant increase in the total time spent on communication applications (median 179 and 243 min per week respectively, p = 0.005), and a significant decrease in the number of unique places visited (median 6 and 3 visits per week respectively, p = 0.007), while the total time spent at home did not change significantly (median 64 and 77 h per week, respectively, p = 0.594). The data provides a proof of principle that digital phenotyping tools can identify changes in human behavior incited by a common external environmental factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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