Ambulatory Assessment

Over the next few months we're going to be running a few long form articles on the news blog along with our regular news updates and product launches. For the first series of articles, we're going to talk a little bit about the origins of Ambulatory Assessment, it's development with technological advances, and some of the exciting future research possibilities that it allows. We hope you enjoy!

Ambulatory Assessment

A short summary of the current methodologies

Studying people in their natural habitat is no longer exclusively the domain of anthropologists in the wild. The jungle and the savannah no longer resemble the day to day experiences of modern urban dwelling homo-sapiens. However the legacy of our past is still locked within our psyche, and unravelling our psychological nature involves researchers utilizing new methods to delve deeper in to our minds and bodies.

The overarching ‘umbrella’ for all of the following research methods is Ambulatory Assessment. Whether you’re performing an Ecological Momentary Assessment or Experience Sampling study, they fall within the scope of Ambulatory Assessment.

The core idea of Ambulatory Assessment is to track parameters outside of the laboratory or clinic. Using electronic diaries and/or physiological sensors, researchers can cast aside the inaccuracy of patient reporting and gain valid real time or near real time data. Data not contaminated by the fallibility of participant recollection or miss reporting, and this allowed researchers a purer glimpse of the “… rich information about the daily lives of individuals who may be studied or treated by clinical scientists and mental health professionals.” (Trull & Ebner-Priemer, 2013)

The best and most concise definition of Ambulatory Assessment comes from the Society for Ambulatory Assessment website:

“Ambulatory Assessment comprises the use of field methods to assess the ongoing behavior, physiology, experience and environmental aspects of people in naturalistic or unconstrained settings. Ambulatory Assessment uses ecologically-valid tools to understand biopsychosocial processes as they unfold naturally in time and in context.”

Whilst Experience Sampling and Ecological Momentary Assessment and Daily Diary Studies are components of Ambulatory Assessment, this term often conjures Physiological Monitoring to mind. Research papers that cite Ambulatory Assessment in their keywords often utilize accelerometers, ECG, and other physiological parameters as the core data in their study.

So that brings us on to Ecological Momentary Assessment and Experience Sampling, two of the key components of Ambulatory Assessment, and just like Ambulatory Assessment, Ecological Momentary Assessment doesn’t really sound that catchy. Now, there’s a subtle difference between EMA and Experience Sampling. First I’ll pass it over to Reed Larson and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to recite the abstract from their 1983 article that defined the Experience Sampling Method:

“…the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), a research procedure that consists of asking individuals to provide systematic self-reports at random occasions during the waking hours of a normal week....The ESM obtains information about the private as well as the public aspects of individuals' lives, secures data about behavioral and intrapsychic aspects of daily activity, and obtains reports about people's experiences as they occur, thereby minimizing the effects of reliance on memory and reconstruction.”

Whilst gathering information from people during their daily lives is the primary role of Experience Sampling, the term has become used to describe gathering subjective data over time even within the laboratory or clinical setting. Now, let’s get back to Ecological Momentary Assessment. To perform great craftsmanship, a tradesman requires good tools, and for the researcher Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) is an incredibly powerful longitudinal study tool for harnessing subjective data in day to day life. The subtle difference between EMA and ESM (experience sampling methodology) lies in the origins of the two methods. EMA emerged out of the field of behavioral medicine, and as a result often includes physiological parameters or health related questions, and is primarily performed in a person’s day to day normal environment.

In the next part of this series, we’ll delve in to the advantages and drawbacks of Ambulatory Assessment, and discuss the impact of developing technology.

Study Diary (VII)

SedentaryMood-Study (Part VII)

The following article is part of a series about the "SedentaryMood-Study".

In the last article the practical implementation of the study was described. In the following and last blog post the result of the study is presented.

Result

The results indicate that there is a significant negative influence on the mood dimension alertness-fatigue and on the good-bad mood. In general terms, this means that sedentary behaviour contributes to higher fatigue. Sedenary units (≥ 30 minutes) in which no interruption took place have a particularly negative effect compared to interrupted units.
With regard to the good-bad mood, the results also point to a significant negative influence of sedentary time. This means that the sedentary time can contribute to a worse mood. Especially negative is the effect of the sedentary units (≥ 30 minutes), in contrast to interrupted sedentary units, on the good-bad mood.

Society for Psychophysiological research 2018

movisens heads abroad to Canada for the 58th annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. The meeting takes place in the Quebec convention centre from the 3rd to the 7th of October. We'll display our unique combination of physiological sensors and experience sampling software, with a key focus on the integration of the two platforms. We look forward to seeing some of our existing customers there, and meeting researchers keen to explore this nascent field.

Amongst a whole array of interesting talks, we're particularly looking forward to the Heart Rate Variability symposium from Julian Thayer on Saturday the 7th. We'd like to extend a warm welcome to all the delegates, and invite them to drop by our table and have a chat about what psychophysiological solutions we can provide for their research.

Measuring “Sedentary Behavior” – General recommendations and solutions by movisens

“Sedentary behavior” is defined as sitting or lying with low energy expenditure (SBRN, 2012). In isolation, energy expenditure provides no reliable information about body posture (e.g. sitting vs. standing), an essential component of assessing sedentary behavior (Holtermann, et al., 2017). Conversley, assessing body posture alone cannot provide insights into energy expenditure, e.g. machine sewing while sitting, crane operators, lifting weights in the gym (Holtermann, et al., 2017). To accurately determine sedentary behaviour requires the assessment of both body posture and energy expenditure.

Reliable methods to measure and assess "sedentary behavior"

  • Case 1: Known environment – e.g. no possibility to stand and all low physical activity ≙ sitting. In this case attaching a sensor at the hip (Move 3) provides only a rough estimation of sedentary behavior.
  • Case 2: Differentiating between sitting/lying & standing. By attaching a sensor (Move 3) to the thigh, the different angles of the axis allow differentiation between sitting/lying and standing. But it is not possible to differentiate between sitting and lying (Byrom, Stratton, McCarthy, & Muelhausen, 2016).
  • Case 3: Assessing changes in time distribution of sedentary behavior – requiring the precise distribution of sedentary behavior and physical activity intensity. This case requires the assessment of both body posture and energy expenditure. This is possible by attaching one sensor (Move 3) at the thigh (sitting/lying vs. standing) and one (Move 3) at the upper body/hip (standing/sitting vs. lying). Additionally, the sensor at the upper body/hip provides the data necessary to estimate energy expenditure (Holtermann, et al., 2017)
  • Case 4: Assessing changes in time distribution of sedentary behavior with a static load. In this case the use of an ecg-sensor provides additional data to assess energy expenditure. Initially the ecg-sensor requires calibration to estimate energy expenditure with additional load. Attaching one sensor (Move 3) at the thigh (sitting/lying vs. standing) and one physical activity and ecg-sensor (EcgMove 3) at the upper body (standing/sitting vs. lying) provides acceleration data from two positions, and the additional ecg-signal allows improved energy expenditure estimations during static work, due to the linear relationship between cardiorespiratory stress and energy expenditure (Holtermann, et al., 2017).
  • Case 5: If an intervention is necessary, or if the research requires additional subjective parameters, we offer the possibility to trigger a questionnaire with our experience sampling platform movisensXS via our SensorTrigger. After the application detects 30 minutes (customizable by the researcher) of sedentary behaviour (<1.5MET) from the sensor, the trigger displays a form on a smartphone app prompting the participant to answer a questionnaire. This offers the possibility to obtain detailed feedback and insights into the daily routine of the study participant.

Seminars at movisens

Thanks to our recent relocation we now have the space to grow our team, and also to offer training here at our own premises! Our new office space allows us to offer seminars in the field of ambulatory assessment/mobile monitoring to researchers and research groups. This allows research teams to undertake basic training in the best methods for gathering physiological and/or experience sampling data and provides a great opportunity to clarify all the important issues they may face in their upcoming study. The training includes both a theoretical and practical component.

If you or your research group would like to attend a training seminar, please contact us at info@movisens.com. We will announce upcoming dates for seminars here on our news page, and via our newsletter which you can subscribe to below. On average we send only one newsletter per month, so it shouldn't hurt your inbox too much!

We’ve relocated!

Important Information: Our address has changed!

Our new address is:

movisens GmbH
Augartenstraße 1
76137 Karlsruhe
Germany

Please send all deliveries to this address from now on!

5th Conference of the Society for Ambulatory Assessment

The fifth Conference of the Society for Ambulatory Assessment takes place in Luxembourg from the 15th to the 17th of June 2017. The conference presents a unique opportunity for the discussion of new research and methods in relation to monitoring behaviour, physiology, experiences and environmental aspects of people in naturalistic settings.

Luminaries in the field such as Paul Wallace, Christoph Thuemmler, Arthur Stone and Donna Spruijt-Metz will present keynote talks that highlight the innovations within this exciting field. movisens is a proud sponsor of this event.

We'll conduct two workshops, both of which detail some of the exciting innovative methods that we've made possible for researchers:
- Thursday, June 15, 2013 - 8.30 am - Room 4.020, 4th floor: "Mobile sensing for ambulatory assessment - technological possibilities and applications"
- Saturday, 17.06.2017 - 11.00 - Room 4.520, 4th floor: "Physiological sensors for interactive ambulatory assessment"

We are looking forward to meeting everyone and enjoying the stimulating discussions on the topic of ambulatory assessment!

13th Symposium Journee De L’Ecole Doctorale Sciences Du Mouvement Humain

movisens is delighted to be attending the 13th Symposium JOURNEE DE L'ECOLE DOCTORALE SCIENCES DU MOUVEMENT HUMAIN (Day of the Doctoral School: Science of human movement) that takes place at the University Montpellier (UFR STAPS) on the 2nd of June, 2017.

This symposium highlights the multi-facetted elements of the movement sciences, and seeks to encourage the development and exchanges between PhD students, PhDs, teachers-researchers, researchers and representatives of the world of business and industry.

Featuring scientific presentations from doctoral students, round table discussions on post thesis projects and poster presentations, it shapes as an important symposium for anyone involved in the movement sciences. We look forward to hearing about your research goals, and welcome you to visit our stand to discuss our physiological sensors and how they may assist your research.

Ambulatory Assessment Colloquium: investigating mood and physical activity

On June 19, 2017, a colloquium on "Ambulatory Assessment to Investigate Physical Activity and Mood" takes place in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Lectures by renowned guests such as Genevieve Dunton (University of Southern California) and Jutta Mata (University of Mannheim) will cover topics of health, physical activity, mobile monitoring and Ecological Momentary Assessment.

Many studies have been actualized with assistance and equipment from movisens, and some of our employees will also participate in the event. This colloquium presents a great opportunity to discuss, develop and plan new and innovative research approaches. If you have an idea for an ambulatory study we have the technology and experience that can help you to develop your idea and turn it into a research project. Feel free to contact us!

Our Distributors

As a global leader in ambulatory assessment solutions, movisens is seeking distributors to assist in servicing our customers throughout the world. If you're interested in distributing our class leading range of sensors in your particular country, please get in touch.

You can find an overview of our current distributors here.