Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 35–52 | Cite as

Ecological Momentary Assessment Research in Behavioral medicine

  • Joshua M. SmythEmail author
  • Arthur A. Stone


Behavioral medicine research often seeks to examine relatively complex theoretical models and clinical processes. Traditional designs, based on retrospective self-report in the natural environment or laboratory-based studies, cannot assess complex and temporally dynamic psychological, behavioral, and physiological processes in the natural environment. An alternate research approach, Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), provides a method to collect such data. This research approach and these data allow investigation of a number of research questions not amenable to other data collection methods. Examples of research questions uniquely suited for EMA data include, but are not limited to: (1) the comparison of retrospective data to momentary data; (2) evaluation of physiological and psychosocial processes in the natural environment; (3) the relation of symptoms and other disease processes to characteristics of the natural environment; and (4) examination of dynamic changes in psychosocial variables that may mediate improvement following treatment. Despite the strengths of EMA data, a number of challenges exist – including logistic, analytic, and interpretation problems – to the easy implementation of EMA approaches in behavioral medicine.

EMA behavioral medicine health psychology research methods ambulatory 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, 402 Huntington HallSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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