BACKGROUND: The mobility of an individual measured by phone-collected location data has been found to be associated with depression; however, the longitudinal relationships (the temporal direction of relationships) between depressive symptom severity and phone-measured mobility have yet to be fully explored.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to explore the relationships and the direction of the relationships between depressive symptom severity and phone-measured mobility over time.
METHODS: Data used in this paper came from a major EU program, called the Remote Assessment of Disease and Relapse-Major Depressive Disorder, which was conducted in 3 European countries. Depressive symptom severity was measured with the 8-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8) through mobile phones every 2 weeks. Participants' location data were recorded by GPS and network sensors in mobile phones every 10 minutes, and 11 mobility features were extracted from location data for the 2 weeks prior to the PHQ-8 assessment. Dynamic structural equation modeling was used to explore the longitudinal relationships between depressive symptom severity and phone-measured mobility.
RESULTS: This study included 2341 PHQ-8 records and corresponding phone-collected location data from 290 participants (age: median 50.0 IQR 34.0, 59.0) years; of whom 215 (74.1%) were female, and 149 (51.4%) were employed. Significant negative correlations were found between depressive symptom severity and phone-measured mobility, and these correlations were more significant at the within-individual level than the between-individual level. For the direction of relationships over time, Homestay (time at home) (φ=0.09, P=.01), Location Entropy (time distribution on different locations) (φ=-0.04, P=.02), and Residential Location Count (reflecting traveling) (φ=0.05, P=.02) were significantly correlated with the subsequent changes in the PHQ-8 score, while changes in the PHQ-8 score significantly affected (φ=-0.07, P<.001) the subsequent periodicity of mobility.
CONCLUSIONS: Several phone-derived mobility features have the potential to predict future depression, which may provide support for future clinical applications, relapse prevention, and remote mental health monitoring practices in real-world settings.
- dynamic structural equation modeling
- location data
- medical informatics
- mental health
- mobile health