Forecasting Mood in Bipolar Disorder From Smartphone Self-assessments: Hierarchical Bayesian Approach

Jonas Busk, Maria Faurholt-Jepsen, Mads Frost, Jakob E. Bardram, Lars Vedel Kessing, Ole Winther

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BACKGROUND: Bipolar disorder is a prevalent mental health condition that is imposing significant burden on society. Accurate forecasting of symptom scores can be used to improve disease monitoring, enable early intervention, and eventually help prevent costly hospitalizations. Although several studies have examined the use of smartphone data to detect mood, only few studies deal with forecasting mood for one or more days. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the feasibility of forecasting daily subjective mood scores based on daily self-assessments collected from patients with bipolar disorder via a smartphone-based system in a randomized clinical trial. METHODS: We applied hierarchical Bayesian regression models, a multi-task learning method, to account for individual differences and forecast mood for up to seven days based on 15,975 smartphone self-assessments from 84 patients with bipolar disorder participating in a randomized clinical trial. We reported the results of two time-series cross-validation 1-day forecast experiments corresponding to two different real-world scenarios and compared the outcomes with commonly used baseline methods. We then applied the best model to evaluate a 7-day forecast. RESULTS: The best performing model used a history of 4 days of self-assessment to predict future mood scores with historical mood being the most important predictor variable. The proposed hierarchical Bayesian regression model outperformed pooled and separate models in a 1-day forecast time-series cross-validation experiment and achieved the predicted metrics, R2=0.51 and root mean squared error of 0.32, for mood scores on a scale of -3 to 3. When increasing the forecast horizon, forecast errors also increased and the forecast regressed toward the mean of data distribution. CONCLUSIONS: Our proposed method can forecast mood for several days with low error compared with common baseline methods. The applicability of a mood forecast in the clinical treatment of bipolar disorder has also been discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15028
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number4
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Bayesian analysis
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Digital phenotyping
  • Early medical intervention
  • Forecasting
  • Machine learning
  • Mood


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