The Validity of Daily Self-Assessed Perceived Stress Measured Using Smartphones in Healthy Individuals: Cohort Study

Helga Þórarinsdóttir*, Maria Faurholt-Jepsen, Henrik Ullum, Mads Frost, Jakob Eyvind Bardram, Lars Vedel Kessing

*Corresponding author for this work

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Smartphones may offer a new and easy tool to assess stress, but the validity has never been investigated. This study aimed to investigate (1) the validity of smartphone-based self-assessed stress compared with Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and (2) whether smartphone-based self-assessed stress correlates with neuroticism (Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Neuroticism, EPQ-N), psychosocial functioning (Functioning Assessment Short Test, FAST), and prior stressful life events (Kendler Questionnaire for Stressful Life Events, SLE). A cohort of 40 healthy blood donors with no history of personal or first-generation family history of psychiatric illness and who used an Android smartphone were instructed to self-assess their stress level daily (on a scale from 0 to 2; beta values reflect this scale) for 4 months. At baseline, participants were assessed with the FAST rater-blinded and filled out the EPQ, the PSS, and the SLE. The PSS assessment was repeated after 4 months. In linear mixed-effect regression and linear regression models, there were statistically significant positive correlations between self-assessed stress and the PSS (beta=.0167; 95% CI 0.0070-0.0026; P=.001), the EPQ-N (beta=.0174; 95% CI 0.0023-0.0325; P=.02), and the FAST (beta=.0329; 95% CI 0.0036-0.0622; P=.03). No correlation was found between smartphone-based self-assessed stress and the SLE. Daily smartphone-based self-assessed stress seems to be a valid measure of perceived stress. Our study contains a modest sample of 40 healthy participants and adds knowledge to a new but growing field of research. Smartphone-based self-assessed stress is a promising tool for measuring stress in real time in future studies of stress and stress-related behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13418
JournalJ M I R mHealth and uHealth
Issue number8
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Emotional stress
  • Smartphone
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Mobile phone
  • Self-report
  • Healthy individuals

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