Cigna has launched a free online stress evaluation tool that uses voice analysis to determine user stress levels. The Cigna StressWaves Test was developed in partnership with Ellipsis Health, a digital health platform that identifies vocal biomarkers to detect anxiety and depression. StressWaves analyzes voice recordings to detect acoustic and semantic patterns associated with stress using machine learning technology.

Featured on Cigna’s website, the StressWaves Test asks individuals to select a concerning topic from a list. After pressing a button on the web page that activates their device’s microphone, the user speaks extemporaneously about the chosen topic for a minute and a half. An AI algorithm trained on a dataset from voice samples of 15,000 adults ranging from 18 to more than 80 years old instantly analyzes vocal biomarkers in the recording.

Based on the voice analysis, StressWaves generates an animation that visually represents the user’s stress level as a color spectrum across an image of the head and upper torso. The idea behind the animation’s swirling colors is to make stress levels more tangible. Such visualization can encourage users to address stress and the stress-related issues that can negatively impact their health and relationships.

The StressWaves results page links to the Cigna Body & Mind app and also features blog content about reducing stress. The test is available to anyone, not just Cigna members. The website doesn’t save the recordings after completing the evaluation or attach any identifying data to the results. Users must enter an email to access their results, but they can choose to skip optional questions about their health insurance status and easily bypass any future sales communication from Cigna.

The test is accessible to anyone with basic English language skills regardless of education level or socioeconomic background. Anyone can also use the Body & Mind app, which generates a personalized action plan to adopt stress-relieving habits. It offers a suite of stress reduction tools, motivational community contests, and a library of informational and coaching resources.

High stress levels can contribute to various health concerns, including musculoskeletal pain, high blood pressure, mood disturbances, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Cigna deserves commendation for responding to the pandemic-driven focus on mental health with a simple, free solution that individuals can benefit from immediately.