Unobtrusive In-Home Detection of Time Spent Out-of-Home with Applications to Loneliness and Physical Activity

Johanna Petersen, Daniel Austin, Jeffrey A. Kaye, Misha Pavel, Tamara L. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Loneliness is a common condition in elderly associated with severe health consequences including increased mortality, decreased cognitive function, and poor quality of life. Identifying and assisting lonely individuals is therefore increasingly important - especially in the home setting - as the very nature of loneliness often makes it difficult to detect by traditional methods. One critical component in assessing loneliness unobtrusively is to measure time spent out-of-home, as loneliness often presents with decreased physical activity, decreased motor functioning, and a decline in activities of daily living, all of which may cause decrease in the amount of time spent outside the home. Using passive and unobtrusive in-home sensing technologies, we have developed a methodology for detecting time spent out-of-home based on logistic regression. Our approach was both sensitive (0.939) and specific (0.975) in detecting time out-of-home across over 41 000 epochs of data collected from four subjects monitored for at least 30 days each in their own homes. In addition to linking time spent out-of-home to loneliness, (r = -0.44, p = 0.011) as measured by the UCLA Loneliness Index, we demonstrate its usefulness in other applications such as uncovering general behavioral patterns of elderly and exploring the link between time spent out-of-home and physical activity (r = 0.415, p = 0.031), as measured by the Berkman Social Disengagement Index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6684324
Pages (from-to)1590-1596
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE journal of biomedical and health informatics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Logistic regression
  • loneliness
  • outings
  • physical activity
  • smart homes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Health Information Management


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