Tailoring Individualized Evaluation of Pediatric Abdominal Pain Using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA): A Pilot Study Testing Feasibility and Acceptability

Clin J Pain. 2019 Nov;35(11):859-868. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000750.


Objective: The current study aimed to determine if it was feasible and acceptable to use ecological momentary assessment to assess individual associations between biopsychosocial contributors to chronic abdominal pain with 2 objective sensors and a mobile application. Specifically, we aimed to determine if it was possible to identify individualized associations between idiopathic pain associations. The goal was to determine if idiographic profiles have clinical value while the field works torward consensus about nomothetic trends.

Materials and methods: Participants included 30 pediatric chronic abdominal pain patients, aged 8 to 17, who wore a physiological monitor and accelerometer that measured sleep and physical activity and answered 4 surveys per day on an app over the course of a 14-day study period.

Results: Results indicated that participants were 96.2% and 95.5% compliant to the wrist-worn accelerometer measuring sleep and physical activity, respectively. Participants completed 76.3% of expected surveys and were least adherent to the physiological monitor (37.9%). In addition, it was possible to generate 24 (80%) personalized reports describing unique associations with pain for participants in the study.

Discussion: Findings provide initial support for the use of ecological momentary assessment over a 2-week period to inform and create personalized profiles for improved clinical care in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diagnosis*
  • Accelerometry
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Pilot Projects