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UCLA and global experts seek colleague input for digital sensing in mental health research standards

  • July 11, 2023

Leading mental health and computer science researchers, industry experts, advocates and funders who participated in the Digital Sensing Workshop held at UCLA in the winter of 2023 are seeking additional review and input from colleagues and other stakeholders for a shared vision, common standards and recommendations they created to facilitate the use of digital sensing technologies in mental health research, which they intend to publish later this year.

Sponsored by Wellcome, the National Institute of Mental Health and the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, the workshop organized participants into workgroups focused on five topics related to the proliferation of digital sensing in mental health research: 1) digital infrastructure, 2) data flow, 3) research study design, 4) reporting and 5) users’ perspective. Since the workshop, participants have continued their collaborative efforts and compiled their recommendations into draft reports, which are now available for review.

“Today, we ask colleagues from across mental health, computer sciences, industry and people with lived experience to lend their expertise and perspective to review and provide input to strengthen our recommendations,” said Nelson Freimer, MD, UCLA distinguished professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, who co-organized the workshop. 

“Hundreds of millions of people globally are living with mental health disorders, and most of them have had no access to clinical care or to research aimed at increasing the quality of and access to care. The use of mobile and wearable sensing technologies in mental health studies has the potential to vastly expand the number of people who can participate in such research. It could enable us to diagnose mental health disorders with unprecedented objectivity and precision; but for us to realize these advancements, it will be necessary to establish common standards for research design, data collection, reporting and storage; and for these technologies to be used ethically and with deep involvement of the communities and individuals who would be most impacted by their development,” said Freimer.

The workshop organizers invite review of and comments on the reports by anyone with an interest in these topics. Reports are posted online at eScholarship. Feedback is requested by August 31, 2023.

About the Digital Sensing Workshop: The Digital Sensing Workshop, sponsored by Wellcome, NIMH and the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, was held at UCLA on February 28, 2023 through March 2, 2023.  Organizers included Freimer, Simona Carini from UCSF, Matthew Hotopf from King’s College, David Mohr from Northwestern University and Tanzeem Choudhury from Cornell Tech. Workshop participants represented 29 different universities, businesses and organizations. Review the complete list of participants. Learn more at the Depression Grand Challenge Happenings.