Capturing Clinical Symptoms with Ecological Momentary Assessment: Convergence of Momentary Reports of Psychotic and Mood Symptoms with Diagnoses and Standard Clinical Assessments

Innov Clin Neurosci. 2021 Jan 1;18(1-3):24-30. eCollection 2021 Jan-Mar.


Objective: The development and deployment of technology-based assessments of clinical symptoms are increasing. This study used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine clinical symptoms and relates these sampling results to structured clinical ratings. Methods: Three times a day for 30 days, participants with bipolar disorder (n=71; BPI) or schizophrenia (n=102; SCZ) completed surveys assessing five psychosis-related and five mood symptoms, in addition to reporting their location and who they were with at the time of survey completion. Participants also completed Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) interviews with trained raters. Mixed-model repeated-measures (MMRM) analyses examined diagnostic effects and the convergence between clinical ratings and EMA sampling. Results: In total, 12,406 EMA samples were collected, with 80-percent adherence to prompts. EMA-reported psychotic symptoms manifested substantial convergence with equivalent endpoint PANSS items. Patients with SCZ had more severe PANSS and EMA psychotic symptoms. There were no changes in symptom severity scores as a function of the number of previous assessments. Conclusions: EMA surveyed clinical symptoms converged substantially with commonly used clinical rating scales in a large sample, with high adherence. This suggested that remote assessment of clinical symptoms is valid and practical and was not associated with alterations in symptoms as a function of reassessment, with additional benefits of "in the moment" sampling, such as eliminating recall bias and the need for informant reports.

Keywords: Schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; depression; ecological momentary assessment; psychosis.