The overall goal of the project is to contribute to the development of a robust way to measure chronic stress from physiological signals. Steps have been made in measuring stress in controlled situations. This project will take the next steps towards a robust stress measurement in less controlled or uncontrolled situations.
This project is a four-year PhD project. The project is done within the collaboration between University of Twente in Enschede and Holst Centre in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
So far, most of the studies that were done on stress were short experiments in which stress was elicited by pictures, movie clips, recalling situations etc. For this study, a long term monitoring of physiological signals of a number of subjects will be done, possibly with subjects working on a stressful project or in a stressful environment. Long term might be in the range of one or several weeks. During the recording time, subjects will be asked about their current mood and stress levels regularly. After this first stage of the study, the signals will be analyzed and a way of calculating real-time stress level will be determined.
In the next stage of the study, physiological signals of subjects will be monitored again for some time. Real-time stress levels as calculated from the physiological signals will be compared to what subjects indicate about their stress level at the same time. Obviously, calculated stress levels should correlate with stress levels as indicated by the subjects. The effect of giving feedback about someone’s stress levels and giving advice to calm down or become more active will be investigated as well. The subject group will be a specific patient/target group and can be used as an example application of real-time stress monitoring.
A literature review has been done on the topic. A detailed analysis of an existing dataset was also performed. This dataset was recorded in a controlled situation. Changes were found in ECG, respiration, skin conductance and trapezius muscle EMG signals due to stress.