A sensitivity analysis of biophysiological responses of stress for wearable sensors in connected health

Talha Iqbal, Pau Redon-Lurbe, Andrew J. Simpkin, Adnan Elahi, Sandra Ganly, William Wijns, Atif Shahzad

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Stress is known as a silent killer that contributes to several life-threatening health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. The current standard for stress evaluation is based on self-reported questionnaires and standardized stress scores. There is no gold standard to independently evaluate stress levels despite the availability of numerous biophysiological stress indicators. With an increasing interest in wearable health monitoring in recent years, several studies have explored the potential of various biophysiological indicators of stress for this purpose. However, there is no clear understanding of the relative sensitivity and specificity of these stress-related biophysiological indicators of stress in the literature. Hence this study aims to perform statistical analysis and classification modelling of biophysiological data gathered from healthy individuals, undergoing various induced emotional states, and to assess the relative sensitivity and specificity of common biophysiological indicators of stress. In this paper, several frequently used key indicators of stress, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, skin conductance, RR interval, heart rate variability in the electrocardiogram, and muscle activation measured by electromyography, are evaluated based on a detailed statistical analysis of the data gathered from an already existing, publicly available WESAD (Wearable Stress and Affect Detection) dataset. Respiratory rate and heart rate were the two best features for distinguishing between stressed and unstressed states.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9437232
Pages (from-to)93567-93579
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021


  • Biomedical monitoring
  • Electrocardiography
  • Monitoring
  • Skin
  • Stress
  • Stress measurement
  • Support vector machines


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