Effects of momentary self-monitoring on empowerment in a randomized controlled trial in patients with depression

Eur Psychiatry. 2015 Nov;30(8):900-6. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2015.09.004. Epub 2015 Oct 6.


Background: Interventions based on the experience sampling method (ESM) are ideally suited to provide insight into personal, contextualized affective patterns in the flow of daily life. Recently, we showed that an ESM-intervention focusing on positive affect was associated with a decrease in symptoms in patients with depression. The aim of the present study was to examine whether ESM-intervention increased patient empowerment.

Methods: Depressed out-patients (n=102) receiving psychopharmacological treatment who had participated in a randomized controlled trial with three arms: (i) an experimental group receiving six weeks of ESM self-monitoring combined with weekly feedback sessions, (ii) a pseudo-experimental group participating in six weeks of ESM self-monitoring without feedback, and (iii) a control group (treatment as usual only). Patients were recruited in the Netherlands between January 2010 and February 2012. Self-report empowerment scores were obtained pre- and post-intervention.

Results: There was an effect of group×assessment period, indicating that the experimental (B=7.26, P=0.061, d=0.44, statistically imprecise) and pseudo-experimental group (B=11.19, P=0.003, d=0.76) increased more in reported empowerment compared to the control group. In the pseudo-experimental group, 29% of the participants showed a statistically reliable increase in empowerment score and 0% reliable decrease compared to 17% reliable increase and 21% reliable decrease in the control group. The experimental group showed 19% reliable increase and 4% reliable decrease.

Conclusions: These findings tentatively suggest that self-monitoring to complement standard antidepressant treatment may increase patients' feelings of empowerment. Further research is necessary to investigate long-term empowering effects of self-monitoring in combination with person-tailored feedback.

Keywords: Depressive disorder; Ecological momentary assessment; Empowerment; Intervention study; Personalized feedback; Self-monitoring.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients / psychology
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Problem Solving
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Young Adult