Using experience sampling methods/ecological momentary assessment (ESM/EMA) in clinical assessment and clinical research: introduction to the special section

Psychol Assess. 2009 Dec;21(4):457-62. doi: 10.1037/a0017653.


This article introduces the special section on experience sampling methods and ecological momentary assessment in clinical assessment. We review the conceptual basis for experience sampling methods (ESM; Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 1987) and ecological momentary assessment (EMA; Stone & Shiffman, 1994). Next, we highlight several advantageous features of ESM/EMA as applied to psychological assessment and clinical research. We provide a brief overview of the articles in this special section, each of which focuses on 1 of the following major classes of psychological disorders: mood disorders and mood dysregulation (Ebner-Priemer & Trull, 2009), anxiety disorders (Alpers, 2009), substance use disorders (Shiffman, 2009), and psychosis (Oorschot, Kwapil, Delespaul, & Myin-Germeys, 2009). Finally, we discuss prospects, future challenges, and limitations of ESM/EMA.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Computers, Handheld
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Personality Assessment*
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Sampling Studies*
  • Social Environment*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Telephone
  • Writing