What is Continuous Behavioral Health Measurement for Research?

Continuous behavioral health measurement, also known as digital phenotyping, mobile sensing, passive sensing, remote patient monitoring, or longitudinal measurement, is a research methodology which uses sensors in smartphones and wearables to collect behavioral information in a passive, objective, and continuous way. This methodology provides data across large samples in a more effective manner than traditional subjective patient-recorded outcomes (PROs).

Continuous Real-World Evidence for Behavioral Health Research

Continuous behavioral health measurement uses mobile sensing capabilities to provide researchers with:

  1. Continuous behavioral data. Mobile sensing automatically and passively collects continuous behavioral data through the participant’s mobile device sensors. This results in ongoing data collection that gives researchers larger and more accurate samples and also reduces participant self-reporting burden.

  2. Objective measurement. Mobile sensing provides objective real-world data about the activity of the participant. These activities include: physical activity, language patterns, sleep, mobility patterns, time spent in natural environments, and media listening habits.

    Objective data collection adds context beyond traditional subjective self-reporting and collects continuous information about the participant’s behavior. This continuous data collection goes beyond what participants could log or provide by themselves. When subjective and objective behavioral data are collected and analyzed together, research results are significantly enhanced. Having objective data provided alongside of self-reporting gives researchers a more complete dataset for analysis that can improve the quality of the findings.

  3. Passive and Remote study administration. Continuous behavioral health measurement is passive and can be administered remotely. Mobile sensing can be deployed on any mobile device anywhere. This reduces the expense of research and saves time spent related to large-scale behavioral data collection from larger sample populations. It can also reduce the “researcher effect” where the presence of the researcher may result in a change of behavior.

Enhance Grant Applications

Continuous behavioral health measurement provides a novel research capability that can enhance grant applications, improving approval rates. In the 7 years it has been in use, Ksana Health’s continuous objective behavioral measurement platforms have been used in numerous NIH-funded grants and for the ABCD Study®, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.

Use Cases

Continuous behavioral health measurement has been successfully used in mobile research studies for a number of years in a variety of study settings and institutions, including studies funded by the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

EARS, the Effortless Assessment Research System, is particularly focused on mental and behavioral health research.

EARS has been used for:

  • Research projects on adolescent cognitive development, social media usage, and risk for suicidality, self-harm, and depressive symptoms,
  • Behavioral assessments before and after a major event
  • Tracking the impact of isolation on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

There is significant potential for this methodology to enhance the data and results of research with populations including adolescents, aging populations, substance use disorder, underserved populations, and many more.

Continuous behavioral health measurement is applicable in psychological, behavioral, social and clinical trials. There are also opportunities across multiple conditions like depression, anxiety, trauma, suicide and even chronic Illnesses like diabetes, multiple sclerosis or cancer.

Ksana Health exists to…

improve behavioral health care and research through continuous behavioral health measurement. To read more about how Ksana Health can help you implement continuous behavioral health measurement in your research study or program, please read more about EARS and Vira and schedule time for a demonstration.


20 January 2022

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