Ecological momentary assessment of mood and movement with bipolar disorder over time: Participant recruitment and efficacy of study methods

Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. 2021 Dec;30(4):e1895. doi: 10.1002/mpr.1895. Epub 2021 Oct 15.


Objectives: Mobile technology and ambulatory research tools enable the study of human experience in vivo, when and where it occurs. This includes cognitive processes that cannot be directly measured or observed (e.g., emotion) but can be reported in the moment when prompted.

Methods: For the Bipolar Affective Disorder and older Adults (BADAS) Study, 50 participants were randomly prompted twice daily to complete brief smartphone questionnaires. This included the Bipolar Disorder Symptom Scale which was developed to briefly measure symptoms of both depression (cognitive and somatic) and hypo/mania (affrontive symptoms and elation/loss of insight). Participants could also submit voluntary or unsolicited app responses anytime; all were time- and GPS-stamped. Herein, we describe BADAS study methods that enabled effective recruitment, adherence and retention.

Results: We collected 9600 app responses over 2 year, for an average response rate of 1.4×/day. Over an average of 145 consecutive days (range 2-435 days), BADAS participants reported depression and hypo/mania symptom levels (a.m. and p.m.), sleep quality (a.m.), medication adherence (a.m.) and any significant events of the day (p.m.). They received $1/day for the first 90 days after submitting both a.m. and p.m. questionnaires.

Conclusion: BADAS study methods demonstrates the utility of ecological momentary assessment in longitudinal psychiatric research.

Keywords: ambulatory assessment; bipolar disorder; ecological momentary assessment; self-care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Humans
  • Sleep Quality
  • Smartphone