Ecological momentary interventions: incorporating mobile technology into psychosocial and health behaviour treatments

Br J Health Psychol. 2010 Feb;15(Pt 1):1-39. doi: 10.1348/135910709X466063. Epub 2009 Jul 28.


Purpose: Psychosocial and health behaviour treatments and therapies can be extended beyond traditional research or clinical settings by using mobile technology to deliver interventions to individuals as they go about their daily lives. These ecological momentary interventions (EMIs) are treatments that are provided to people during their everyday lives (i.e. in real time) and in natural settings (i.e. real world). The goal of the present review is to synthesize and critique mobile technology-based EMI aimed at improving health behaviours and psychological and physical symptoms.

Methods: Twenty-seven interventions using palmtop computers or mobile phones to deliver ambulatory treatment for smoking cessation, weight loss, anxiety, diabetes management, eating disorders, alcohol use, and healthy eating and physical activity were identified.

Results: There is evidence that EMI can be successfully delivered, are accepted by patients, and are efficacious for treating a variety of health behaviours and physical and psychological symptoms. Limitations of the existing literature were identified and recommendations and considerations for research design, sample characteristics, measurement, statistical analyses, and clinical implementation are discussed.

Conclusions: Mobile technology-based EMI can be effectively implemented as interventions for a variety of health behaviours and psychological and physical symptoms. Future research should integrate the assessment and intervention capabilities of mobile technology to create dynamically and individually tailored EMI that are ecologically sensitive.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Cell Phone*
  • Child
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Self Care / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss
  • Young Adult