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Qirtas M.M.;Zafeiridi E.;Pesch D.;White E.B.
Loneliness and Social Isolation Detection Using Passive Sensing Techniques: Scoping Review
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eHealth loneliness mHealth mobile phone monitoring passive sensing scoping review sensors smartphone social isolation wearables
BACKGROUND: Loneliness and social isolation are associated with multiple health problems, including depression, functional impairment, and death. Mobile sensing using smartphones and wearable devices, such as fitness trackers or smartwatches, as well as ambient sensors, can be used to acquire data remotely on individuals and their daily routines and behaviors in real time. This has opened new possibilities for the early detection of health and social problems, including loneliness and social isolation. OBJECTIVE: This scoping review aimed to identify and synthesize recent scientific studies that used passive sensing techniques, such as the use of in-home ambient sensors, smartphones, and wearable device sensors, to collect data on device users' daily routines and behaviors to detect loneliness or social isolation. This review also aimed to examine various aspects of these studies, especially target populations, privacy, and validation issues. METHODS: A scoping review was undertaken, following the PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews). Studies on the topic under investigation were identified through 6 databases (IEEE Xplore, Scopus, ACM, PubMed, Web of Science, and Embase). The identified studies were screened for the type of passive sensing detection methods for loneliness and social isolation, targeted population, reliability of the detection systems, challenges, and limitations of these detection systems. RESULTS: After conducting the initial search, a total of 40,071 papers were identified. After screening for inclusion and exclusion criteria, 29 (0.07%) studies were included in this scoping review. Most studies (20/29, 69%) used smartphone and wearable technology to detect loneliness or social isolation, and 72% (21/29) of the studies used a validated reference standard to assess the accuracy of passively collected data for detecting loneliness or social isolation. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the growing use of passive sensing technologies for detecting loneliness and social isolation, some substantial gaps still remain in this domain. A population heterogeneity issue exists among several studies, indicating that different demographic characteristics, such as age and differences in participants' behaviors, can affect loneliness and social isolation. In addition, despite extensive personal data collection, relatively few studies have addressed privacy and ethical issues. This review provides uncertain evidence regarding the use of passive sensing to detect loneliness and social isolation. Future research is needed using robust study designs, measures, and examinations of privacy and ethical concerns.
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