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Tailoring Individualized Evaluation of Pediatric Abdominal Pain Using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)

A Pilot Study Testing Feasibility and Acceptability

Cushing, Christopher C. PhD*,†; Kichline, Tiffany MS*; Blossom, Jennifer B. MS*; Friesen, Craig A. MD; Schurman, Jennifer V. PhD

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000750
Original Articles

Objective: The current study aimed to determine if it was feasible and acceptable to use ecological momentary assessment to assess individual associations between biopsychosocial contributors to chronic abdominal pain with 2 objective sensors and a mobile application. Specifically, we aimed to determine if it was possible to identify individualized associations between idiopathic pain associations. The goal was to determine if idiographic profiles have clinical value while the field works torward consensus about nomothetic trends.

Materials and Methods: Participants included 30 pediatric chronic abdominal pain patients, aged 8 to 17, who wore a physiological monitor and accelerometer that measured sleep and physical activity and answered 4 surveys per day on an app over the course of a 14-day study period.

Results: Results indicated that participants were 96.2% and 95.5% compliant to the wrist-worn accelerometer measuring sleep and physical activity, respectively. Participants completed 76.3% of expected surveys and were least adherent to the physiological monitor (37.9%). In addition, it was possible to generate 24 (80%) personalized reports describing unique associations with pain for participants in the study.

Discussion: Findings provide initial support for the use of ecological momentary assessment over a 2-week period to inform and create personalized profiles for improved clinical care in this population.

*Clinical Child Psychology Program, University of Kansas

Schiefelbusch Institute for Lifespan Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Kansas City, MO

Supported by a grant from the Katherine B. Richardson Foundation, Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Christopher C. Cushing, PhD, Clinical Child Psychology Program, University of Kansas, 2015 Dole Human Development Center, Lawrence, KS 66045 (e-mail:

Received February 28, 2019

Received in revised form July 5, 2019

Accepted July 23, 2019

Online date: August 20, 2019

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