Assessing clients in their natural environments with electronic diaries: rationale, benefits, limitations, and barriers. Psychological Assessment, 19, 25-43

Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, United States
Psychological Assessment (Impact Factor: 2.99). 04/2007; 19(1):25-43. DOI: 10.1037/1040-3590.19.1.25
Source: PubMed


Increasingly, mobile technologies are used to gather diary data in basic research and clinical studies. This article considers issues relevant to the integration of electronic diary (ED) methods in clinical assessment. EDs can be used to gather rich information regarding clients' day-to-day experiences, aiding diagnosis, treatment planning, treatment implementation, and treatment evaluation. The authors review the benefits of using diary methods in addition to retrospective assessments, and they review studies assessing whether EDs yield higher quality data than conventional, less expensive paper-pencil diaries. Practical considerations--including what platforms can be used to implement EDs, what features they should have, and considerations in designing diary protocols for sampling different types of clinical phenomena--are described. The authors briefly illustrate with examples some ways in which ED data could be summarized for clinical use. Finally, the authors consider barriers to clinical adoption of EDs. EDs are likely to become increasingly popular tools in routine clinical assessment as clinicians become more familiar with the logic of diary designs; as software packages evolve to meet the needs of clinicians; and as mobile technologies become ubiquitous, robust, and inexpensive.

Download full-text


Available from: Timothy J Trull, May 27, 2015
    • "However, thoughts and feelings are context-specific. Memories are easily contaminated by recall bias (Tourangeau 1999) and by the emotional state elicited by researchers asking reflective questions (Piasecki et al. 2007; Shiffman et al. 2008). These limitations may be confounded further by the requirement to aggregate experiences over time (Schwarz 1999; Shiffman et al. 2008). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study explored the everyday life experiences of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Fourteen Australians and 16 Taiwanese (aged 16–45 years) with Asperger syndrome/high functioning autism recorded what they were doing, level of interest/involvement, emotional reactions and preference for being alone 7 times/day for 7 days. Multilevel analyses showed that ‘solitary/parallel leisure’ and ‘social activities’ were positively associated with interest and involvement. Engaging in these two activities and interacting with friends were positively associated with enjoyment. However, engaging in ‘social activities’ and having less severe ASD symptoms were associated with in-the-moment anxiety. Severity of ASD and social anxiety moderated experience in social situations. The findings highlight the importance of considering the in-the-moment experience of people with ASD.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Source
    • "However, there are increasing numbers of published papers on specific aspects of ambulatory assessment analyses (Kubiak and Jonas, 2007; Jahng et al., 2008; Ebner-Priemer and Bussmann, 2011), as well as approaches to calculate the reliability, validity, and sensitivity of change for multilevel data (Wilhelm and Schoebi, 2007). There are also several papers on design issues, which will help novices in this field (Fahrenberg and Myrtek, 2001; Fahrenberg et al., 2007; Piasecki et al., 2007; Shiffman, 2007; Conner and Lehman, 2012), and overviews on hard- and software solutions for ambulatory assessment (Ebner-Priemer and Kubiak, 2007). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Several meta-analyses have investigated the association between physical activity and affective states and have found evidence suggesting that exercise exerts a positive effect on affective state. However, in this field of research, most studies have conducted between-subject analyses. Nonetheless, there is more and more interest in the within-subject associations between physical activity and momentary affective states in everyday life. This position statement pertains to this up-and-coming field of research and provides methodological recommendations for further studies. The paper is divided into three parts: First, we summarise and evaluate three methodological requirements necessary for the proper evaluation of within-subject associations between physical activity and momentary affective states in everyday life. We propose that the following issues should be considered: a) to address the dynamic nature of such relationships, repeated assessments are necessary; b) as activities performed in everyday life are mostly spontaneous and unconscious, an objective assessment of physical activity is useful; c) given that recall of affective states is often affected by systematic distortions, real-time assessment is preferable. In sum, we suggest the use of ambulatory assessment techniques, and more specifically the combination of acceloremeter-assessment of physical activity with an electronic diary assessment of the momentary affective state and additional context information. Second, we summarise 22 empirical studies published between 1980 and 2012 using ambulatory assessment to investigate within-subject associations between momentary affective states and physical activity in everyday life. Generally, the literature overview detects a positive association, which appears stronger among those studies that were of high methodological quality. Third, we propose the use of ambulatory assessment intervention strategies to change people's behaviour (ambulatory assessment int
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Frontiers in Psychology
  • Source
    • "Recent studies suggest that the use of electronic data collection tools can increase the accuracy of self-disclosed risk behaviors by allowing a participant to self-administer a survey or diary, in their own environment, as close to the occurrence of the behavior as possible [9]. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) [2,4,10-12] is one such tool, in which participants respond to pre-programmed signals on an electronic device (e.g., a PDA or cellular phone) prompting them to complete diaries, in various within-day frequencies, related to recent or immediate social environment and behavior [13,14]. This arrangement allows joint assessment of a risk behavior, and the context in which it occurs, in near real time [15]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Self-reports of sensitive, socially stigmatized or illegal behavior are common in STI/HIV research, but can raise challenges in terms of data reliability and validity. The use of electronic data collection tools, including ecological momentary assessment (EMA), can increase the accuracy of this information by allowing a participant to self-administer a survey or diary entry, in their own environment, as close to the occurrence of the behavior as possible. In this paper, we evaluate the feasibility of using cell phone-based EMA as a tool for understanding sexual risk and STI among adult men and women. As part of a larger prospective clinical study on sexual risk behavior and incident STI in clinically recruited adult men and women, using study-provided cell phones, participants (N = 243) completed thrice-daily EMA diaries monitoring individual and partner-specific emotional attributes, non-sexual activities, non-coital or coital sexual behaviors, and contraceptive behaviors. Using these data, we assess feasibility in terms of participant compliance, behavior reactivity, general method acceptability and method efficacy for capturing behaviors. Participants were highly compliant with diary entry protocol and schedule: over the entire 12 study weeks, participants submitted 89.7% (54,914/61,236) of the expected diary entries, with an average of 18.86 of the 21 expected diaries (85.7%) each week. Submission did not differ substantially across gender, race/ethnicity and baseline sexually transmitted infection status. A sufficient volume and range of sexual behaviors were captured, with reporting trends in different legal and illegal behaviors showing small variation over time. Participants found the methodology to be acceptable, enjoyed and felt comfortable participating in the study. Achieving the correct medium of data collection can drastically improve, or degrade, the timeliness and quality of an individual's self-reported sexual risk behavior, which in turn, is a key factor in the success of intervention or education programs relying on this information. Our findings demonstrate that completion of electronic diaries via cellular phone is feasible way to describe STI/HIV risk among clinically recruited adult men and women.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · BMC Medical Research Methodology
Show more