International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement (ICAMPAM), 21th to 24th May 2008 in the World Trade Centre in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Symposia and talks at Conferences
International Congress of Psychology (ICP), 20th to 25th July 2008 in Berlin
I) Tuesday 22nd, 8.00-10.00 (Hall 5): Real-world psychology: lessons learned from applying ambulatory assessment
Symposium speakers have been gathered to demonstrate innovative applications of ambulatory assessment for capturing behavior, physiology, thoughts and feelings during everyday life. Kubiak will report on symptom perception and blood glucose feedback in diabetes; Conner will present associations of the serotonin transporter gene with daily stress reactivity; Mehl tracked moment-to-moment ambient sounds to study participants’ social lives; Peter Wilhelm assessed how well spouses know their partners’ feelings; Frank
Wilhelm examined daily-life experience and symptoms in anxiety patients; and Ebner-Priemer investigated emotional instability patterns in personality disorders. Together, presentations support the significance of a psychological science oriented on real-world behavior.
Speakers: Tamlin S. Conner, Thomas Kubiak, Frank Wilhelm, Ulrich W. Ebner-Priemer, Peter Wilhelm, Matthias R. Mehl
1. Ambulatory Assessment at the Interface of Psychology and Genetics: An Illustration with the Serotonin Transporter Gene (Tamlin S. Conner, Department of Psychology, University of Otago, New Zealand)
Ambulatory assessment techniques are potentially powerful tools at the interface of psychology and genetics. To illustrate this idea, I will present research combining ambulatory assessments with genotyping from saliva samples. Participants (N = 345) were genotyped for variation in the serotonin transporter gene. They also reported their feelings daily over the Internet for 30 days. Participants with the risky genetic variant reported greater anxiety, particularly on high stressor days, compared to low genetic risk individuals. No genetic differences were found with traditional questionnaires. Findings suggest that ambulatory assessments may be more sensitive than traditional approaches for detecting some genetic vulnerabilities. talk.pdf.
2. Exploring Symptom Perception in Diabetes mellitus - Putting Ambulatory Assessment Techniques to Clinical Use (Thomas Kubiak, Institute of Psychology, University of Greifswald, Germany)
In a set of studies, we investigated the use of hand-held computer (HHC) based ambulatory assessment methods for assessing symptom perception in diabetes mellitus patients. Combined signal- event sampling schemes were employed. In two studies (N=20, N=87), our findings demonstrated the added diagnostic value of our approach as compared to relying solely on questionnaires. Furthermore, in Study 3 (N= 59), where we extended the HHC procedure with a blood glucose / symptom feedback function, we were able to observe beneficial effects with regards to improving symptom perception pointing towards novel, relevant uses of HHC assessment in clinical care.
3. Anxiety in everyday life (Frank H. Wilhelm, Clinical Psychophysiology Laboratory, University of Basel)
Anxiety is a fundamental emotion that evolved to guide behavior under conditions of threat. Although modern life is characterized by few threats to life anxiety is exceedingly common. Surprisingly little is known about the architecture of anxiety in modern life. Using state-of-the-art methods of ambulatory assessment we investigated a wide range of experiential, physiological and contextual variables during daily life in healthy individuals and patients with anxiety disorders. Results indicate that anxiety episodes in healthy individuals are typically brief and mild, while anxiety patients experience extended periods of moderate to intense anxiety and are rarely free of bodily symptoms. talk.pdf
4. Assessing Affective Instability in an emotionally unstable personality disorder (Ulrich Ebner-Priemer, Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg)
The study of psychopathology has witnessed rapid advancements in laboratory research; however, traditional methods are often unable to provide information about psychopathology outside of these settings. Affective instability is an essential criterion for borderline personality disorder (BPD), but empirical studies are spares and conflicting. Using electronic diaries, we assessed repeatedly affective states of 50 patients with BPD and 50 healthy controls during a 24-hour period of everyday life. In contrast to previous studies, heightened affect instability was exhibited in BPD and self-injuries and skills were identified as emotion regulation strategies. Results suggest the promise of electronic diaries for clinical research. talk.pdf
5. Empathic Inference and Assumed Similarity in Couples’ Daily Lives (Peter Wilhelm, University of Fribourg, Switzerland)
Objectives: So far research on empathic inference has been limited to short laboratory interactions. Therefore, we investigated how well spouses know how their partners are feeling during their daily lives. Methods: We conducted two computer assisted diary studies with 95 and 77 couples. Spouses recorded their own feelings and their partner’s feelings six times each day during an ordinary week. Results based on multilevel analyses allow the following Conclusions: In daily life spouses’ judgments of their partners’ feelings rely substantially on their own feelings (assumed similarity). However, their inference is quite accurate, even when assumed similarity is controlled. talk.pdf
6. Eavesdropping on Personality: A Naturalistic Observation Approach to Studying Individual Differences in Daily Life (Matthias R. Mehl, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona)
This talk provides an overview of a novel ambulatory assessment method called the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR). The EAR is a portable audio recorder that periodically samples ambient sounds from participants’ momentary environments. In tracking moment-to-moment ambient sounds, it yields an acoustic log of a person’s day as it naturally unfolds. As a naturalistic observation method, it provides an observer’s account of daily life and is optimized for the assessment of audible aspects of participants’ social lives. The talk will address conceptual and methodological issues around the method, highlight recent empirical findings, and discuss the method’s potentials for personality research. talk.pdf
II) Tuesday 22nd, 16.45-18.45 (Hall 15.2B): Couple and family dynamics in the mirror of experience and behaviour sampling method
Chair: Meinrad Perrez
Speakers: Anna Rönkä, Rena Repetti, Dominik Schoebi, Niall Bolger, William Cook, Kurt Pawlik
The main purpose of the symposium is to give a representative insight into the current psychological research on couple and family dynamics on the base of ambulatory assessment methods. Different variants of behavior sampling and of multi-method approaches will illustrate new possibilities to study couple and family processes under daily life conditions with repeated measures from both parents and children, and from couples. Methodological strengths and limits of this research approach outside the confinements of laboratories and questionnaires will be discussed.
1. Emotional lives of mothers, fathers and young children: Are they connected? (Anna Rönkä, Jyväskylä, Finland)
The objective of this study was to analyze if parents’ and young children’s daily moods are related. Data on 107 families was collected during a one-week period in November 2006 using different kinds of diaries. Parents answered ten structured questions about their mood and interactions three times a day by mobile diary, sending text messages. More detailed information about daily events and interactions was gathered by means of paper-and pencil diaries. A child diary gathering data on children’s mood and interactions were filled in by parents and day care personnel. Multi-level modeling was used to analyze the data gathered from three family members.
2. A new approach to the study of couple and family dynamics: Zeroing in on a week in the life of a family (Rena Repetti, Los Angeles, USA
Data from the Alfred P. Sloan Center for the Everyday Lives of Families at UCLA will illustrate a novel approach to studying the dynamics of family life. The study uses a variety of repeated measures data that were collected from both parents and children: diary measures of mood and stressors (taken at scheduled points during the day), samples of cortisol (taken at the same points each day), and daily video tapes of family interaction. The integration of self-reports with biological samples and naturalistic observations of family life presents both opportunities and challenges for family and couple researchers.
3. Self-esteem and the coregulation of emotions in married couples’ daily life (Dominik Schoebi, Los Angeles, USA)
The study investigates interpersonal coregulation of affect in marital relationships, and how self-esteem affects these processes. In two studies, 655 dual-earner couples participated in an electronic diary procedure. Both partners reported on their affect, their expectancies and their perceptions of the partner’s affect, several times per day over the course of a week. The results suggest that men’s low self-esteem shapes how affective experience are transmitted between spouses. Moreover, low self-esteem moderated within-person patterns of associations between expectancies about the partner’s affect and reports of marital distress at night. These patterns predicted change in relationship satisfaction across 3 years.
4. Emotional transmission in couples under stress (Niall Bolger, New York, USA)
Close relationships are defined as those where one partner’s psychological states and behaviors have the capacity to influence those of the other. We investigated this process of emotional transmission in couples under stress. Participants were 216 couples where one partner was preparing to take a legal certification test typically experienced as highly stressful. They provided daily diary reports of emotional states for 44 days surrounding the event. Examinees' angry mood was related to partners’ angry mood on the same day. However, emotional transmission diminished as the examination approached and rebounded afterwards. Couples differed considerably in the strength of transmission.
5. Mood synchronization in family-members’ daily lives (William L. Cook, Portland, USA)
no abstract available
6. The design and psychometrics of ambulatory assessment (Kurt Pawlik, Hamburg, Germany)
Ambulatory assessment (AA) methods are devised to study human behavior outside the confinements of laboratory or other experimenter-designed conditions of observation. Different from classical “stationary” interindividual difference assessment, AA also captures intraindividual sources of variation (with respect to states, settings etc.). AA enables a researcher to draw upon these sources of variation (and their correlation and interaction!) so as to meet chosen criteria of ecological representativeness.
Principal study designs of AA will be presented and discussed with respect to strengths and weaknesses. This will be followed by a taxonomy of psychometric standards and illustrative sample results from the presented papers.
International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, 27th-30th August 2008 in Tokio
Symposium "Progress in ambulatory assessment – Psychophysiological monitoring and electronic diary methods in behavioral medical research and practice"
Chair: Thomas Kubiak (GER)
Andreas Schwerdtfeger (GER): „Self-efficacy as a health-protective resource in teachers? Lessons learned from ambulatory monitoring“
Claus Vögele (UK): “Binge eating in the field: An ambulatory study in patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa”
Thomas Kubiak (GER): “Self-monitoring in type 1 diabetes mellitus re-visited: Electronic diaries and continuous glucose monitoring put to clinical use”
Discussant: Andrew Steptoe (UK)
The past decades have seen a rapid progress in the development of ambulatory monitoring devices, including psychophysiological monitoring systems and powerful electronic diary solutions. Building on the long tradition of (self-)monitoring in behavioral medical research and practice, this symposium aims at giving an overview on recent findings and developments in ambulatory assessment across various fields of application. These include psychophysiological studies on protective factors for burnout, as well as disease-specific applications in type 1 diabetes mellitus and binge eating. In addition to providing an overview and highlighting methodical strengths and pitfalls of ambulatory assessment, the symposium particularly focuses on novel clinical applications, such as deriving useful diagnostic markers from monitoring data and introducing new features to symptom self-monitoring via online processing and symptom feedback.
1. Self-efficacy as a health-protective resource in teachers? Lessons learned from ambulatory monitoring
Andreas Schwerdtfeger, Leslie Konermann, and Katja Schoenhofen
Department of Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany
We aimed to examine the psychobiological correlates of self-efficacy in teachers. Two studies were conducted. Study 1 examined associations between teacher self-efficacy and cardiac activation on a working day and study 2 assessed the cortisol morning response in teachers with varying levels of teacher self-efficacy. Teacher self-efficacy was assessed by questionnaire. In study 1 heart rate, heart rate variability, and locomotor activity were recorded by 22 hours ambulatory monitoring and subjective measures of stress and strain were obtained. Study 2 assessed the cortisol response to awakening to obtain a measure of HPA-axis activation and teachers filled in a questionnaire on physical complaints. Study 1 found that self-efficacy proved protective for psychological well-being. Moreover, after controlling for locomotor activity, demographic, and lifestyle variables self-efficacy was associated with elevated heart rate and attenuated heart rate variability during school and leisure time, respectively, but not during the night, thus questioning the health-implications of self-efficacy. Study 2 found that teachers high in self-efficacy exhibited an attenuated cortisol response to awakening and fewer cardiac complaints. The results of both studies are compatible with the view that teacher self-efficacy might act as a physiological toughening agent with possibly favorable health outcomes.
2. Binge eating in the field: An ambulatory study in patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa
Claus Vögele & Brunna Tuschen-Caffier
Clinical and Heath Psychology Research Centre, School of Human and Life Sciences, Roehampton University, UK
Department of Psychology, University of Freiburg, Germany
Binge eating is one of the major diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. During binge attacks large amounts of food are consumed in a short period of time, while the person affected experiences an acute sense of loss of control over eating. Despite the central role of binge eating for bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, relatively little is known about the underlying psychological and physiological mechanisms. Experiments conducted in the laboratory tend to use food or stress exposure techniques in order to provoke binge eating. However, there is doubt as to the ecological validity of this procedure. The current study investigated binge eating behaviour in the field. Thirteen female individuals diagnosed with bulimia nervosa were equipped with ambulatory monitoring devices recording ECG, EMG and physical activity over two 24-hour periods within the same week. Participants filled in a detailed food (type, amount) and mood diary over the recorded periods. The control group consisted of eleven age- and weight-matched non-eating disordered female volunteers. Results show that binge attacks occurred in 25% of recorded periods within the bulimia sample. Within group comparisons showed binge attacks to be associated with an increase in heart rate compared to no changes during normal meals. The results are discussed in terms of cardiac autonomic deregulation and a conditioning model of binge eating.
3. Self-monitoring in type 1 diabetes mellitus re-visited: Electronic diaries and continuous glucose monitoring put to clinical use
Institute of Psychology, University of Greifswald, Germany
Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels and symptoms is crucial for a successful disease self-management in people with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in order to avoiding short-term (hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis) as well as long-term diabetes complications. Particularly in T1DM with impaired awareness of hypoglycemia, symptom self-monitoring is of high importance and beneficial effects of systematic self-monitoring for enhancing hypoglycemia awareness are well known. In the present talk, the two ambulatory monitoring methods, electronic diaries and continuous glucose monitoring systems, are presented and practicability and their usefulness for assessment and intervention are discussed on the basis of a series of studies in T1DM patients. In a first set of studies, we investigated the use of electronic diaries for assessing symptom perception in diabetes mellitus patients. The findings demonstrated the added diagnostic value of electronic diaries as compared to relying solely on questionnaires or paper-pencil self-monitoring. Furthermore, in a second set of studies employing continuous glucose monitoring led to more superior diagnostic results as compared to spot glucose measurements with regard to the detection of unrecognized hypoglycemic events. Finally, a sample of T1DM patients was studied using an extended electronic diary procedure with an integrated blood glucose / symptom feedback function based on online processing of the patients’ entries. Here, beneficial effects could be observed with regards to improving symptom perception pointing towards novel, relevant uses of electronic diaries in clinical diabetes care.