Annual Research Review: Ecological momentary assessment studies in child psychology and psychiatry

Michael A. Russell, Jamie M. Gajos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Enhancements in mobile phone technology allow the study of children and adolescents' everyday lives like never before. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) uses these advancements to allow in-depth measurements of links between context, behavior, and physiology in youths' everyday lives. Findings: A large and diverse literature now exists on using EMA to study mental and behavioral health among youth. Modern EMA methods are built on a rich tradition of idiographic inquiry focused on the intensive study of individuals. Studies of child and adolescent mental and behavioral health have used EMA to characterize lived experience, document naturalistic within-person processes and individual differences in these processes, measure familiar constructs in novel ways, and examine temporal order and dynamics in youths' everyday lives. Conclusions: Ecological momentary assessment is feasible and reliable for studying the daily lives of youth. EMA can inform the development and augmentation of traditional and momentary intervention. Continued research and technological development in mobile intervention design and implementation, EMA-sensor integration, and complex real-time data analysis are needed to realize the potential of just-in-time adaptive intervention, which may allow researchers to reach high-risk youth with intervention content when and where it is needed most.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-394
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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