Project HealthDesign: dwellSense - Using Sensor Data From Elders' Daily Activities to Augment Personal Health Records, 2011-2012 (ICPSR 36030)

Principal Investigator(s): Flatley Brennan, Patricia, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dey, Amind K., Carnegie Mellon University. Human-Computer Interaction Institute


It is often hard to detect subtle changes in everyday activities that could indicate the onset of dementia or physical decline in adults who live alone. The dwellSense team developed new technologies to monitor the routines of older adults who are at risk for cognitive decline. In-home sensors monitored three routine tasks: taking medication, making phone calls and preparing coffee. The sensor data was then used by key stakeholders, including participants, caregivers, and clinicians, to detect and better understand the individual's changing cognitive and physical abilities. By identifying decline at an early stage, caregivers have a chance to halt or even reverse deterioration that might otherwise result in an unsafe living situation or a transition to long-term care. This data collection comprises the sensor data collected from the elders who participated in the dwellSense study.

Series: Project HealthDesign Series

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    The data are restricted from general dissemination for reasons of confidentiality. Users interested in obtaining the data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to the data through the ICPSR restricted data contract portal which can be accessed via the study home page.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Pill Data - Download All Files (2.376 MB)

ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS2:  Coffee Data - Download All Files (1.843 MB)

ASCII + SPSS Setup   
DS3:  Phone Data - Download All Files (1.964 MB)

ASCII + SPSS Setup   

Study Description


Flatley Brennan, Patricia, and Amind K. Dey. Project HealthDesign: dwellSense - Using Sensor Data From Elders' Daily Activities to Augment Personal Health Records, 2011-2012. ICPSR36030-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-05-03.

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This study was funded by:

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (67167)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    cognitive decline, health information technology, observations of daily living, older adults, personal health records

Geographic Coverage:    Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, United States

Time Period:   

  • 2011--2012

Date of Collection:   

  • 2011--2012

Universe:    Persons at risk of cognitive decline.

Data Collection Notes:

The dwellSense study (formerly Embedded Assessment) was a project of Project HealthDesign, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designed to stimulate innovation in the development of personal health records systems. Additional information about dwellSense is available on the Project HealthDesign web site.

The SPSS setups are encoded in UTF-8.


Sample:    The dwellSence study recruited a convenience sample of 12 older adults living in a senior high-rise apartment building. The dwellSense data contain data collected from ten of them.

Mode of Data Collection:    coded on-site observation, mixed mode

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2016-05-03

Version History:

  • 2016-05-03 A minor change was made to the study description.


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