A Web-Based Application for Personalized Ecological Momentary Assessment in Psychiatric Care: User-Centered Development of the PETRA Application

Fionneke M Bos*, Lino von Klipstein, Ando C Emerencia, Erwin Veermans, Tom Verhage, Evelien Snippe, Bennard Doornbos, Grietje Hadders-Prins, Marieke Wichers, Harriëtte Riese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Smartphone self-monitoring of mood, symptoms, and contextual factors through ecological momentary assessment (EMA) provides insights into the daily lives of people undergoing psychiatric treatment. Therefore, EMA has the potential to improve their care. To integrate EMA into treatment, a clinical tool that helps clients and clinicians create personalized EMA diaries and interpret the gathered data is needed.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to develop a web-based application for personalized EMA in specialized psychiatric care in close collaboration with all stakeholders (ie, clients, clinicians, researchers, and software developers).

METHODS: The participants were 52 clients with mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders and 45 clinicians (psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses). We engaged them in interviews, focus groups, and usability sessions to determine the requirements for an EMA web application and repeatedly obtained feedback on iteratively improved high-fidelity EMA web application prototypes. We used human-centered design principles to determine important requirements for the web application and designed high-fidelity prototypes that were continuously re-evaluated and adapted.

RESULTS: The iterative development process resulted in Personalized Treatment by Real-time Assessment (PETRA), which is a scientifically grounded web application for the integration of personalized EMA in Dutch clinical care. PETRA includes a decision aid to support clients and clinicians with constructing personalized EMA diaries, an EMA diary item repository, an SMS text message-based diary delivery system, and a feedback module for visualizing the gathered EMA data. PETRA is integrated into electronic health record systems to ensure ease of use and sustainable integration in clinical care and adheres to privacy regulations.

CONCLUSIONS: PETRA was built to fulfill the needs of clients and clinicians for a user-friendly and personalized EMA tool embedded in routine psychiatric care. PETRA is unique in this codevelopment process, its extensive but user-friendly personalization options, its integration into electronic health record systems, its transdiagnostic focus, and its strong scientific foundation in the design of EMA diaries and feedback. The clinical effectiveness of integrating personalized diaries via PETRA into care requires further research. As such, PETRA paves the way for a systematic investigation of the utility of personalized EMA for routine mental health care.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36430
Number of pages20
JournalJMIR mental health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9-Aug-2022


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