Smartphone-based behavioral monitoring and patient-reported outcomes in adults with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease

Elizabeth Mollard, Sofia Pedro, Rebecca Schumacher, Kaleb Michaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMD) are associated with depression, fatigue, and disturbed sleep – symptoms that often impact behavior and activity. Patient reported outcomes (PROs) are a way of collecting information on the patient symptom experience directly from the individual. The purpose of this study was to measure and compare user smartphone sensor and activity data in adults with RMDs and assess associations with PROs. Methods: We invited adults with RMDs enrolled in the FORWARD Databank to participate by installing a custom app on their smartphone and answering PROs (pain, global, HAQ-II) questions daily and weekly over 3 years. Passive data collected included mobility distance, unique calls and text messages, call durations, and number of missed calls. Confounders included sociodemographic, clinical, passive phone behavior, and seasonal factors. Kappa statistics between PRO and flares were computed to measure agreement. The agreement between daily and weekly VAS pain was estimated using the intraclass (ICC) correlation of a two-way random effect model. The relationship between the weekly PRO outcomes and the passive phone data was analyzed with a linear mixed-effect model (LMM), including a random intercept for participant and slope for time in the study with an unstructured covariate structure. Results: Of the 446 participants, the mean (SD) age was 54 (12) years, most (65.5%) had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the vast majority (91%) were female, and the US Northeast has the least representation (12%). Longer reaction times, interaction diversity, and higher mobility were associated with worse PROs while longer text messages were associated with better PROs. Participants in this study showed good levels of adherence which holds promise for future interventions using passive behavior measures in self-management and clinical follow-up. Conclusion: This is the first study to examine passive smartphone behavior with PROs in RMDs and we found significant associations between these behaviors and important health outcomes of pain and function. As smartphone usage continues to change, future studies should validate and expand on our findings with a goal of finding changes in patient symptoms passively through mobile device monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number566
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Mobile health
  • Patient reported outcomes
  • Physical function
  • Rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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