JMIR Mental Health

Acoustic and Facial Features from Clinical Interviews for Machine Learning-Based Psychiatric Diagnosis: Algorithm Development

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Background: In contrast to all other areas of medicine, psychiatry is still nearly entirely reliant on subjective assessments such as patient self-report and clinical observation. The lack of objective information on which to base clinical decisions can contribute to reduced quality of care. Behavioral health clinicians need objective and reliable patient data to support effective targeted interventions. Objective: We aimed to investigate whether reliable inferences-psychiatric signs, symptoms, and diagnoses-can be extracted from audiovisual patterns in recorded evaluation interviews of participants with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and bipolar disorder. Methods: We obtained audiovisual data from 89 participants (mean age 25.3 years; male: 48/89, 53.9%; female: 41/89, 46.1%): individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (n=41), individuals with bipolar disorder (n=21), and healthy volunteers (n=27). We developed machine learning models based on acoustic and facial movement features extracted from participant interviews to predict diagnoses and detect clinician-coded neuropsychiatric symptoms, and we assessed model performance using area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) in 5-fold cross-validation. Results: The model successfully differentiated between schizophrenia spectrum disorders and bipolar disorder (AUROC 0.73) when aggregating face and voice features. Facial action units including cheek-raising muscle (AUROC 0.64) and chin-raising muscle (AUROC 0.74) provided the strongest signal for men. Vocal features, such as energy in the frequency band 1 to 4 kHz (AUROC 0.80) and spectral harmonicity (AUROC 0.78), provided the strongest signal for women. Lip corner-pulling muscle signal discriminated between diagnoses for both men (AUROC 0.61) and women (AUROC 0.62). Several psychiatric signs and symptoms were successfully inferred: blunted affect (AUROC 0.81), avolition (AUROC 0.72), lack of vocal inflection (AUROC 0.71), asociality (AUROC 0.63), and worthlessness (AUROC 0.61). Conclusions: This study represents advancement in efforts to capitalize on digital data to improve diagnostic assessment and supports the development of a new generation of innovative clinical tools by employing acoustic and facial data analysis.