Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this study is to understand an individual’s wellbeing based on digital traces of their activities. By relating digital logs of behavior to surveys asking questions that are used in traditional wellbeing assessments, our team will determine whether there are interconnections between an individual’s wellness and their behavioral traces.

You may participate in this study if you’re 18 or older, live in the United States, have a mobile phone with a Google account, actively use Google to search and send/receive email, and have enabled Google location in the last three months. You must also be able to complete surveys in English.

You are being invited to participate because you fit the criteria outlined above.

The study will take 10 weeks. During three of those weeks, you will spend about 60 minutes filling in the surveys. During the other seven weeks, you will spend about 30 minutes filling the surveys. During the first week, you will learn how to set up Google Takeout to download your Google data, which you will then share with our team.

You will download your Google data using Google Takeout, and share it with our team. Then over the course of ten weeks, you will complete surveys about your wellness, both shorter ones (~30 minutes) and three longer ones (~60 minutes) at the beginning, midpoint, and end.

Because we will be discussing wellness (including social, mental, and physical health), you may feel some minor discomfort in recalling events or answering the questions. You have the option to quit the study at any time.

You will receive a total of $120 (in the form of Amazon gift cards) for participating and completing this study. More details are provided below. Other benefits of taking part in this study may include being able to contribute to science. By being a part of our study, your information will help future researchers and clinicians make choices about how to manage mental health that will benefit all of society.

Your alternative is not to take part in this study.

During the study, you will be updated about any new information that may affect whether you are willing to continue taking part in the study. If new information is learned that may affect you after the study or your follow-up is completed, you will be contacted.

In general, we will not give you any individual results from the study. If we find something of urgent medical importance to you, we will inform you, although we expect that this will be a very rare occurrence. In the event that a participant has certain health or wellbeing scores that are concerning, our co-principal investigator, Vince Silenzio, MD, will advise them to seek further medical help.

There is no cost to participate in this study.

You will receive $ 120.00 in the form of Amazon gift cards for taking part in this study according to the following schedule:
  • $ 25.00 after your initial sign up survey and Google data collection
  • $ 35.00 after your midpoint survey
  • $ 60.00 after your final survey, at end of week 10
You will be emailed electronic gift cards from Amazon within 24 hours of activity completion at each of these stages. Full participation includes providing the Google data using Google Takeout and filling up all the required surveys in a timely and an earnest manner. Participation may be terminated by the research team if the participant fails to submit the surveys more than 3 days after the due date prescribed. If you leave the study before completion, or are asked to leave the study due to non-compliance as stated above, the amount paid would be that for the last milestone successfully completed.

All efforts will be made to keep your personal information in your research record confidential, but total confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Your survey responses will be linked to your Google data by associating them with your individual ID number, which the team will give you. Email information will include only metadata (frequency, timestamps, subject line) and exclude email text content. Email addresses will be anonymized via one-way cryptographic hashing by the PI before distribution to project staff. (A cryptographic hash function is a hash function which is considered practically impossible to invert, that is, to recreate the input data from its hash value alone. For example an email address “” will be converted into “ABCD123412ABHChg@3233” which cannot be reconstructed to generate the original address under normal circumstances.). Any other identifying information will be stripped.

The information collected about you for this research will not be used by or distributed to investigators for other research.

It is your choice whether to take part in the research. You may choose to take part, not to take part or you may change your mind and withdraw from the study at any time.

If you do not want to enter the study or decide to stop taking part, your relationship with the study staff will not change, and you may do so without penalty and without loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled.

You may also withdraw your consent for the use of data already collected about you, but you must do this in writing to Dr. Vivek Singh at

Any data that has already been collected cannot be withdrawn because there may not be any identifiers with some of the data.

The study will collect two kinds of data (1)digital behavioral data and (2) wellness related surveys.
  1. Digital behavior traces (as collected by Google).
    • Calendar
    • Chrome
    • Fit
    • Location History
    • Mail
    • Maps
    • Activity
    • News
    • Voice
    • Hangout
    • YouTube and YouTube music

    - This will NOT include the actual content of communication (e.g., emails, audio). Anonymized identifiers for both sender and receiver will be maintained. So, the system will know if two emails were sent to the same person, but not know the identity of that person.
    - Google Data Loss Prevention (DLP) API will be used to retrieve, anonymize, and store the data in HIPAA compliant secure storage in the Google cloud platform.
    - Data will be collected on two distinct occasions (week 1 and week 10). Both times via an explicit action from the participants.

  2. Weekly surveys. Weekly survey will ask participants about their physical and mental wellness, impact of pandemic on their behavior, demographic details etc.