ICAT: Development of an Internet-Based Data Collection Method for Ecological Momentary Assessment Using Personal Cell Phone Academic Article uri icon


  • Rapid advances in mobile data-transfer technologies offer new possibilities in the use of cell phones to conduct assessments of a person's natural environment in real time. This paper describes features of a new Internet-based, cell phone-optimized assessment technique (ICAT), which consists of a retrospective baseline assessment combined with text messages sent to the participants' personal cell phones providing a hyperlink to an Internet-stored cell phone-optimized questionnaire. Two participation conditions were used to test variations in response burden. Retention rates, completion rates, and response times in different subgroups were tested by means of χ² tests, Cox regression, and logistic regression. Among the 237 initial participants, we observed a retention rate of 90.3% from the baseline assessment to the cell-phone part, and 80.4% repeated participation in the 30 daily assessments. Each day, 40-70% of the questionnaires were returned, a fourth in less than 3 minutes. Qualitative interviews underscored the ease of use of ICAT. This technique appears to be an innovative, convenient, and cost-effective way of collecting data on situational characteristics while minimizing recall bias. Because of its flexibility, ICAT can be applied in various disciplines, whether as part of small pilot studies or large-scale, crosscultural, and multisite research projects.

publication date

  • 2013