Smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in psychiatric patients and student controls: A real-world feasibility study

Alejandro Porras-Segovia, Rosa María Molina-Madueño, Sofian Berrouiguet, Jorge López-Castroman, Maria Luisa Barrigón, María Sandra Pérez-Rodríguez, José Heliodoro Marco, Isaac Díaz-Oliván, Santiago de León, Philippe Courtet, Antonio Artés-Rodríguez, Enrique Baca-García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is a promising methodology for mental health research. The objective of this study is to determine the feasibility of smartphone-based active and passive EMA in psychiatric outpatients and student controls. Methods: Two smartphone applications —MEmind and eB2— were developed for behavioral active and passive monitoring. The applications were tested in psychiatric patients with a history of suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors (STB), psychiatric patients without a history of STB, and student controls. Main outcome was feasibility, measured as response to recruitment, retention, and EMA compliance. Secondary outcomes were patterns of smartphone usage. Results: Response rate was 87.3% in patients with a history of STB, 85.1% in patients without a history of STB, and 75.0% in student controls. 457 participants installed the MEmind app (120 patients with a history of STB and 337 controls) and 1,708 installed the eB2 app (139 patients with a history of STB, 1,224 patients with no history of STB and 346 controls). For the MEmind app, participants were followed-up for a median of 49.5, resulting in 22,622 person-days. For the eB2 application, participants were followed-up for a median of 48.9 days, resulting in 83,521 person-days. EMA compliance rate was 65.00% in suicidal patients and 75.21% in student controls. At the end of the follow-up, over 60% of participants remained in the study. Limitations: Cases and controls were not matched by age and sex. Cases were patients who were receiving adequate psychopharmacological treatment and attending their appointments, which may result in an overstatement of clinical compliance. Conclusions: Smartphone-based active and passive monitoring are feasible methods in psychiatric patients in real-world settings. The development of applications with friendly interfaces and directly useful features can help increase engagement without using incentives. The MEmind and eB2 applications are promising clinical tools that could contribute to the management of mental disorders. In the near future, these applications could serve as risk monitoring devices in the clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-741
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume274
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

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