Logo for the The Smartphone, Behaviour, and Mood Study

Contact us or sign up
Sign up or contact us with any questions you have:

To sign up to our study, you can provide your email address here

If you have any questions, you can contact us here

 

Welcome to our website and thank you for your interest in our study.

 

The Smartphone, Behaviour, and Mood Study

Who are we?

We are health psychology researchers at UCD School of Psychology. Dr Sonya Deschênes is an Assistant Professor and Ms Amy Mc Inerney is an Ad Astra PhD Student. We are interested in how behavioural, lifestyle, and psychological factors interact and influence our health and well-being. We are interested in working out ways to assess and ultimately improve well-being in everyone in the community. We also have a special interest in understanding and improving well-being in people with Type 2 diabetes.

What is this research about?

We are interested in better understanding well-being in people with and without Type 2 diabetes. We want to learn about how we can use smartphones to do this. This study will use a smartphone application (“app”) called Beiwe. This app will collect Ecological Momentary Assessments (EMA) by asking, for example, “How did you sleep last night?” and “How happy are you feeling right now?” The app will also collect data from your smartphone’s sensors. We will additionally ask you to fill out three questionnaires assessing psychological, lifestyle, health, and behavioural factors. We hope to use this information to learn about the factors that influence our well-being. This is not-for-profit research. We only want to learn how we can better assess, and hopefully improve, psychological well-being in the community.

Check out our FAQs section here for more information on the Beiwe app.

Why is this research important?

Smartphones have the potential to be an effective way of improving how we monitor and assess health and well-being in the community. Many of us carry our smartphones with us each day and interact with them regularly. In many cases, our smartphones know more about important health factors, like how much we move and rest each day, than our GP does. Combining this information with questions asked by a smartphone app (like “How did you sleep last night? and “How happy/sad are you feeling?”) could help us better understand psychological well-being, mood, and behaviour, and how these change day-to-day. So, the smartphone is a tool already widely used in the community that could help us better identify the factors that make us feel well or not so well. We want to harness the power of the smartphone to measure well-being in a safe and ethical way that protects your privacy.

What’s involved

This is what will happen if you volunteer to take part in our study:

First, let's see if you are eligible to take part.

To take part in our study you must:

  • Live in the Republic of Ireland
  • Be over 18 and under 70 years of age
  • Be proficient in English
  • Use a smartphone daily

We have tried our best to make our study accessible. However, it may not be suitable for everyone. Please find information on the study accessibility in the FAQs section here.

I’m eligible and want to sign up!
What will happen when I sign up?
You can sign up here. Ms Amy Mc Inerney, the UCD PhD student working on this project, will send you a reply by email. She will send you a detailed information sheet and consent form. The information sheet will include information on the study, what is involved, and how we will protect your identity and privacy. You will have time to ask questions and think about whether you want to take part. When you sign and return the consent form you will be enrolled in the study. Amy will send you your participant ID code (example: 3f6g8h6ss) and a temporary password. You will use this for the Beiwe app and the online surveys. She will also send you the first online questionnaire and instructions on how to complete it. If you have any questions or problems, you can email Amy and she will assist you.

I’m enrolled and set up!
What is involved in taking part in this study?

Taking part in the study involves having the Beiwe smartphone app on your phone for 2 months (but you can change your mind and stop at any point). You will be asked to answer brief assessments on the app twice a day. In the morning you will be asked to rate your sleep last night (taking less than 30 seconds). In the evening you will be asked briefly about your day and how you felt (taking less than 2 minutes). There will also be 3 online questionnaires (taking roughly 15-20 minutes).

The Beiwe app will also allow us to access some of your phone sensor data. The data we are interested in relate to mobility/GPS (e.g., number of steps, how much you move about each day), screen time, and ambient light and noise. For android phones, we will also receive information on the number of calls and texts sent and received (but not phone numbers or content of any message or call). We do not have access to any other content from your smartphone such as which websites you visit or what your text messages say. Our smartphones collect data about us each day (the number of steps we take, how much we sleep) and using some of this data can help us better measure well-being. We take protecting your data and identity very seriously. Please find more information on how your identity and privacy will be protected in the FAQs here.

 

FAQs 

What is Beiwe?

What is Digital Phenotyping?

How will my identity and privacy be protected?

Is this study accessible?

What support will be available to me? 

What is Beiwe?
The Beiwe research platform and application was developed by the Onnela Lab at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Beiwe allows the collection of digital phenotype data from smartphones. The app is easy to use and does not drain your phone’s battery. The Beiwe app is secure and data will only ever be transmitted from your smartphone in an encrypted manner.

 What is Digital Phenotyping?
Digital phenotyping uses data from personal digital devices, like your smartphone, to get an estimate of factors that are unique to you. This could be how you rate your sleep, how active you are, or how much time you spend interacting with others each day. This is important behavioural information that has a big impact on your health and well-being, but it cannot always be measured easily or accurately in a check-up with your GP. Digital phenotyping allows these factors to be estimated in the moment, as you go about your daily life. As digital phenotyping is a new way of collecting data, we are in the early stages of working out the kinds of digital phenotypes associated with aspects of health and well-being. We hope to use passive and active data from smartphones to determine the digital phenotypes most associated with health and well-being in people with and without type 2 diabetes.

What do you mean by active data? Active data involves brief active engagement from you. In our study we are using Ecological Momentary Assessments (EMA). For example, the app will ask a question in the morning about how you would rate the quality of your sleep last night, and you will answer, providing the data.

What do you mean by passive data? Passive data does not involve active engagement from you, other than your permission. This is data that is automatically collected from your smartphone every day. This data complements the EMA data by providing measurements of, for example, movement. We can then estimate how much a person moves each day and if this is related to, for example, how they rate the quality of their sleep or their mood.

 How will my identity and privacy be protected?
We understand that allowing the Beiwe app to access some of the sensor data collected from your smartphone might make you feel uncomfortable. We take protecting your privacy very seriously. At every stage of this study, we will handle your data responsibly. We want to stress that we are not interested in your personal details and we do not want to examine your individual data and make any assumption about you. We are interested in what the data from all our participants tells us when it is pooled together. We can then link certain digital phenotypes to certain aspects of well-being.

When you sign up to our study you will be provided with an ID code. You will use this code for the online questionnaires on a survey platform named Qualtrics and to register with the Beiwe app. Your data will be identified by this code in the dataset.

You will contact Amy and sign up using your email address. Your email address (personal information) will be stored separately to the dataset in an encrypted, password-protected way.

We are interested in GPS data because the way we move about each day may be related to our mood, health, and wellbeing. GPS is potentially identifiable and so we will be processing and coding the GPS data so that it is no longer identifiable. For example, GPS coordinates can be processed so that we can keep important information, like the distance from home a person travels each day, without keeping the actual GPS (including home location) coordinates. In this way, we will know how many kilometres participant 3f6g8h6s travelled from home each day, but not where home is or where they were going.

On Android phones only, the Beiwe app will receive information on the number of calls and texts you send and receive. However, we will never see any phone numbers. We will never see the content of your messages or calls. We will only see how many calls and texts were sent and received.

If you have any questions or concerns about how your data will be managed and stored please use the “Ask a question” form (here) to ask Ms Amy Mc Inerney. 

Is this study accessible?

We have made every effort to make our study accessible. The instructions for downloading and setting up the Beiwe app and completing the online questionnaires will be in plain English. We have included pictures to make it easier to follow. You can ask us for help if you have any issues. However, it is not possible to have the questionnaires or information presented orally (out loud).

If you would like to take a break while completing the online questionnaires, you can do so at the page breaks. You will find more information on how to do this in the instructions when you sign up.

While we have worked to make this study accessible, it may not be suitable for everyone. If you, or someone you know, would like to take part but are unsure if the study is suitable, please contact Ms Amy Mc Inerney. We can talk about the study and, if it seems suitable, how best to assist you to take part. You can type in your question here and Amy will get back to you.

What support will be available to me?

You will be provided with instructions on how to download and register with Beiwe and on how to complete the Qualtrics questionnaires. If you have any issues, you can contact us, and we will try to troubleshoot the problem. You will be provided with the details of support and mental health services in case the process of answering questionnaires about psychological well-being and mental health brings up feelings of emotional distress.

Updates

We will post updates on the study here. 

Please check back for updates on the project.