Digital Phenotypes for Understanding Individuals' Compliance With COVID-19 Policies and Personalized Nudges: Longitudinal Observational Study

Ahmed Ibrahim, Heng Zhang, Sarah Clinch, Ellen Poliakoff, Bijan Parsia, Simon Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Governments promote behavioral policies such as social distancing and phased reopening to control the spread of COVID-19. Digital phenotyping helps promote the compliance with these policies through the personalized behavioral knowledge it produces. Objective: This study investigated the value of smartphone-derived digital phenotypes in (1) analyzing individuals’ compliance with COVID-19 policies through behavioral responses and (2) suggesting ways to personalize communication through those policies. Methods: We conducted longitudinal experiments that started before the outbreak of COVID-19 and continued during the pandemic. A total of 16 participants were recruited before the pandemic, and a smartphone sensing app was installed for each of them. We then assessed individual compliance with COVID-19 policies and their impact on habitual behaviors. Results: Our results show a significant change in people’s mobility (P<.001) as a result of COVID-19 regulations, from an average of 10 visited places every week to approximately 2 places a week. We also discussed our results within the context of nudges used by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom to promote COVID-19 regulations. Conclusions: Our findings show that digital phenotyping has substantial value in understanding people’s behavior during a pandemic. Behavioral features extracted from digital phenotypes can facilitate the personalization of and compliance with behavioral policies. A rule-based messaging system can be implemented to deliver nudges on the basis of digital phenotyping.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23461
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Volume5
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021

Keywords

  • Behavior
  • COVID-19
  • Compliance
  • Digital phenotyping
  • Nudges
  • Personalization
  • Policy
  • Sensor
  • Smartphone

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