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33 (1-18)


Background: Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is used to capture daily lived experiences, states, and environments. Although EMA is commonly used in behavioral health research, there remains a dearth of literature on how researchers account for design considerations of EMA techniques when designing studies. The goal of this formative mixed methods study was to elicit feedback on EMA study procedures and materials from the target populations for a larger study about binge eating among sexual minority and heterosexual young women, in which data are collected entirely remotely.

Methods: Sexual minority (n=12) and heterosexual (n=9) women ages 18–30 who binge ate took part in a pilot EMA study and exit interview and survey. As part of the consent and orientation process, participants reviewed video and written materials describing the study purpose and procedures. Using a smartphone app, for seven consecutive days they completed a survey each morning, 5 random surveys per day, and self-initiated a survey each time they binge ate. Participants then provided feedback on the study via a 1-hour virtual interview and online survey. Interviews were transcribed and reviewed by two coders to identify themes on the acceptability and feasibility of the EMA procedures with a focus on: (I) the training and study description materials; (II) general smartphone app and survey preferences; and (III) specific EMA survey question content and wording.

Results: The qualitative and quantitative data converged to suggest participants were able to easily download and use the app to complete surveys and report on binge eating events. Participants provided feedback that was incorporated into revisions on general study procedures, the training video content, and EMA question content for binge eating, identity-related stressors, and appearance-related pressures. No systematic themes in the quantitative or qualitative data emerged to suggest questions were perceived differently by sexual minority and heterosexual young women.

Conclusions: These findings provide evidence for the feasibility of conducting a remote EMA study to assess young women’s experiences around binge eating. This formative study provides an example of how a mixed methods approach can be used to refine EMA study methods and questions to improve study design.


© The Authors.

This is an open access article, published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License.

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Article states: "Available at https://mhealth."

Original Publication Citation

Heron, K. E., Dawson, C. A., Sandoval, C. M., Butler, L. V., Braitman, A. L., Cerezo, A., & Lewis, R. J. (2023). Refining an ecological momentary assessment study of binge eating among sexual minority and heterosexual young women: A mixed methods pilot study. mHealth, 9, 1-18, Article 33.


0000-0003-2259-1094 (Braitman)