Usability and acceptability of a smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment to capture relationship communication


  • S. Langer
  • N. Ghosh
  • L. Porter


BACKGROUND: This study tested usability and acceptability of a smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to capture twice-daily reports of communication with one’s partner, in preparation for a larger investigation of couple communication within the context of advanced cancer. Specifically, we adapted questionnaire-based measures of communication for EMA. METHODS: Adult married or cohabiting participants were recruited from At each notification (twice daily for 2 weeks), participants were asked if they’d conversed with their partner since awakening or the last notification. If yes, further questions assessed importance of the conversation and communicative behaviors including disclosure, holding back, protective buffering, and responsiveness. Ratings were made on a 1-5 scale, with higher values indicating more of the construct. A follow-up interview assessed usability and acceptability. FINDINGS: Demographic characteristics of the sample (n=30) were: M(SD) age = 36.27(12.10); 87% female; 90% Caucasian; 7% Hispanic. Among 756 total notifications, 603 were completed (79.8%). Conversations with the partner were frequent, 484/603 (80.3%), and rated as relatively important, M(SD) = 3.10(1.26). Ratings of communication were as follows: M(SD) disclosure = 3.71(1.17), holding back = 1.65(1.03), protective buffering = 1.85(1.00), and responsiveness = 4.16(0.76). Those completing the interview (n=28) reported the app to be convenient, M(SD) = 4.14(0.76), and the questions easy to answer, M(SD) = 4.39(0.69). Eighty percent completed the app within 5 minutes. DISCUSSION: Our smartphone-based EMA was usable, achieving an 80% response rate, and deemed acceptable. Next steps are to conduct psychometric analyses of the items and adapt for use with cancer survivors and partners.





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