Modeling between-subject and within-subject variances in ecological momentary assessment data using mixed-effects location scale models

Stat Med. 2012 Nov 30;31(27):3328-36. doi: 10.1002/sim.5338. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Ecological momentary assessment and/or experience sampling methods are increasingly used in health studies to study subjective experiences within changing environmental contexts. In these studies, up to 30 or 40 observations are often obtained for each subject. Because there are so many measurements per subject, one can characterize a subject's mean and variance and can specify models for both. In this article, we focus on an adolescent smoking study using ecological momentary assessment where interest is on characterizing changes in mood variation. We describe how covariates can influence the mood variances and also extend the statistical model by adding a subject-level random effect to the within-subject variance specification. This permits subjects to have influence on the mean, or location, and variability, or (square of the) scale, of their mood responses. These mixed-effects location scale models have useful applications in many research areas where interest centers on the joint modeling of the mean and variance structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affect
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Ecology / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Smoking / psychology