A Novel Inexpensive Use of Smartphone Technology for Ecological Momentary Assessment in Middle-Aged Women

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Commercially available mobile and Internet technologies present a promising opportunity to feasibly conduct ecological momentary assessment (EMA). The purpose of this study was to describe a novel EMA protocol administered on middle-aged women’s smartphones via text messaging and mobile Internet.


Women (N = 9; mean age = 46.2 ± 8.2 y) received 35 text message prompts to a mobile survey assessing activity, self-worth, and self-efficacy over 14 days. Prompts were scheduled and surveys were administered using commercial, Internet-based programs. Prompting was tailored to each woman’s daily wake/sleep schedule. Women concurrently wore a wrist-worn accelerometer. Feasibility was assessed via survey completion, accelerometer wear, participant feedback, and researcher notes.


Of 315 prompted surveys, 287 responses were valid (91.1%). Average completion time was 1.52 ± 1.03 minutes. One participant’s activity data were excluded due to accelerometer malfunction, resulting in complete data from 8 participants (n = 252 [80.0%] valid observations). Women reported the survey was easily and quickly read/completed. However, most thought the accelerometer was inconvenient.


High completion rates and perceived usability suggest capitalizing on widely available technology and tailoring prompting schedules may optimize EMA in middle-aged women. However, researchers may need to carefully select objective monitors to maintain data validity while limiting participant burden.

Ehlers (dkehlers@illinois.edu), Huberty, Buman, and Hooker are with the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion and Todd is with the College of Nursing and Health Innovation; Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ. de Vreede is with the Muma College of Business, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.