Scroll to top

Smartphone sensing of social isolation and loneliness: Implications for digital therapeutics

OCTOBER 6, 2023

Daniel Fulford, PhD
Associate Professor
Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences 
Boston University

About the Presentation: Social disconnection—including limited social contact and associated subjective distress, or loneliness—is a critical public health concern given its determinantal impact on health, particularly among those with mental illness. Despite a wealth of data linking social disconnection and health across time, little is known about the dynamic experience of isolation and loneliness in daily life. In this talk, Dr. Fulford will share work identifying relevant internal, interpersonal, and contextual features of social disconnection using smartphone-based intensive longitudinal data collection methods. He will cover studies using both active (e.g., experience sampling methods using self-report) and passive (e.g., GPS-based geo-location, ambient audio) data sources, and discuss implications for digital interventions to improve social connection “just-in-time.”

About the Presenter: Daniel Fulford, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Departments of Occupational Therapy and Psychological & Brain Sciences at Boston University (BU). Dr. Fulford’s clinical and research interests include motivation and social processes in serious mental illness, and he uses ambulatory methods (e.g., smartphone applications), including the development and testing of digital therapeutics, in his work. He was named a Face of the Future from the Society for Research in Psychopathology, and was co-awarded a Visionary Grant from the American Psychological Foundation. Dr. Fulford has published his work in top journals of the field, including Schizophrenia Bulletin and JAMA Psychiatry, and serves as Associate Editor for several journals, including the Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science (formerly Journal of Abnormal Psychology).