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A study of wrist-worn activity measurement as a potential real-world biomarker for late-life depression

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Peter GallagherORCiD, Dr Daniel StowORCiD, Dr Nils Hammerla, Dr Thomas Ploetz, Dr Michael FirbankORCiD, Dr Cassim Ladha, Dr Karim Ladha, Dan Jackson, Róisín McNaney, Emeritus Professor Nicol Ferrier, Professor Patrick OlivierORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background. Late-life depression (LLD) is associated with a decline in physical activity. Typically this is assessed by self-report questionnaires and, more recently, with actigraphy. We sought to explore the utility of a bespoke activity monitor to characterize activity profiles in LLD more precisely.Method. The activity monitor was worn for 7 days by 29 adults with LLD and 30 healthy controls. Subjects underwent neuropsychological assessment and quality of life (QoL) (36-item Short-Form Health Survey) and activities of daily living (ADL) scales (Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale) were administered.Results. Physical activity was significantly reduced in LLD compared with controls (t = 3.63, p < 0.001), primarily in the morning. LLD subjects showed slower fine motor movements (t = 3.49, p < 0.001). In LLD patients, activity reductions were related to reduced ADL (r = 0.61, p < 0.001), lower QoL (r = 0.65, p < 0.001), associative learning (r = 0.40, p = 0.036), and higher Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale score (r = -0.37, p < 0.05).Conclusions. Patients with LLD had a significant reduction in general physical activity compared with healthy controls. Assessment of specific activity parameters further revealed the correlates of impairments associated with LLD. Our study suggests that novel wearable technology has the potential to provide an objective way of monitoring real-world function.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Brien JT, Gallagher P, Stow D, Hammerla N, Ploetz T, Firbank M, Ladha C, Ladha K, Jackson D, McNaney R, Ferrier IN, Olivier P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychological Medicine

Year: 2017

Volume: 47

Issue: 1

Pages: 93-102

Print publication date: 01/01/2017

Online publication date: 26/09/2016

Acceptance date: 02/08/2016

Date deposited: 08/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0033-2917

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8978

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0033291716002166


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Funder referenceFunder name
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre
Newcastle University
NIHR Biomedical Research Centre
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit in Dementia
University of Cambridge
EP/G066019/1Research Councils UK (RCUK) Digital Economy Research Hub on Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE)
G1001828/1UK Medical Research Council