Smartphone sensor data estimate alcohol craving in a cohort of patients with alcohol-associated liver disease and alcohol use disorder

Hepatol Commun. 2023 Dec 7;7(12):e0329. doi: 10.1097/HC9.0000000000000329. eCollection 2023 Dec 1.


Background: Sensors within smartphones, such as accelerometer and location, can describe longitudinal markers of behavior as represented through devices in a method called digital phenotyping. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of digital phenotyping for patients with alcohol-associated liver disease and alcohol use disorder, determine correlations between smartphone data and alcohol craving, and establish power assessment for future studies to prognosticate clinical outcomes.

Methods: A total of 24 individuals with alcohol-associated liver disease and alcohol use disorder were instructed to download the AWARE application to collect continuous sensor data and complete daily ecological momentary assessments on alcohol craving and mood for up to 30 days. Data from sensor streams were processed into features like accelerometer magnitude, number of calls, and location entropy, which were used for statistical analysis. We used repeated measures correlation for longitudinal data to evaluate associations between sensors and ecological momentary assessments and standard Pearson correlation to evaluate within-individual relationships between sensors and craving.

Results: Alcohol craving significantly correlated with mood obtained from ecological momentary assessments. Across all sensors, features associated with craving were also significantly correlated with all moods (eg, loneliness and stress) except boredom. Individual-level analysis revealed significant relationships between craving and features of location entropy and average accelerometer magnitude.

Conclusions: Smartphone sensors may serve as markers for alcohol craving and mood in alcohol-associated liver disease and alcohol use disorder. Findings suggest that location-based and accelerometer-based features may be associated with alcohol craving. However, data missingness and low participant retention remain challenges. Future studies are needed for further digital phenotyping of relapse risk and progression of liver disease.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcoholism* / diagnosis
  • Craving
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic*
  • Smartphone