Predicting Depressive Symptom Severity through Individuals' Nearby Bluetooth Devices Count Data Collected by Mobile Phones: A Preliminary Longitudinal Study

Yuezhou Zhang, Amos A Folarin, Shaoxiong Sun, Nicholas Cummins, Yatharth Ranjan, Zulqarnain Rashid, Pauline Conde, Callum Stewart, Petroula Laiou, Faith Matcham, Carolin Oetzmann, Femke Lamers, Sara Siddi, Sara Simblett, Aki Rintala, David C Mohr, Inez Myin-Germeys, Til Wykes, Josep Maria Haro, Brenda WJH PennixVaibhav A Narayan, Peter Annas, Matthew Hotopf, Richard JB Dobson

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

15 Downloads (Pure)


The Bluetooth sensor embedded in mobile phones provides an unobtrusive, continuous, and cost-efficient means to capture individuals' proximity information, such as the nearby Bluetooth devices count (NBDC). The continuous NBDC data can partially reflect individuals' behaviors and status, such as social connections and interactions, working status, mobility, and social isolation and loneliness, which were found to be significantly associated with depression by previous survey-based studies. This paper aims to explore the NBDC data's value in predicting depressive symptom severity as measured via the 8-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8). The data used in this paper included 2,886 bi-weekly PHQ-8 records collected from 316 participants recruited from three study sites in the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK as part of the EU RADAR-CNS study. From the NBDC data two weeks prior to each PHQ-8 score, we extracted 49 Bluetooth features, including statistical features and nonlinear features for measuring periodicity and regularity of individuals' life rhythms. Linear mixed-effect models were used to explore associations between Bluetooth features and the PHQ-8 score. We then applied hierarchical Bayesian linear regression models to predict the PHQ-8 score from the extracted Bluetooth features. A number of significant associations were found between Bluetooth features and depressive symptom severity. Compared with commonly used machine learning models, the proposed hierarchical Bayesian linear regression model achieved the best prediction metrics, R2= 0.526, and root mean squared error (RMSE) of 3.891. Bluetooth features can explain an extra 18.8% of the variance in the PHQ-8 score relative to the baseline model without Bluetooth features (R2=0.338, RMSE = 4.547).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2021


  • stat.ML
  • cs.LG

Cite this