Selected Published Work

Johns Hopkins University: Opioid Use in Chronic Pain

Sickle Cell Disease is a chronically painful condition often treated with opioids which carries the risk of addiction and abuse. But previously to the use of the mEMA System it was not understood how patients make decisions about which opioids to take and when. 

This group used the mEMA System to present a Daily Diary questionnaire every evening to patients. They asked about how they were feeling, which opioids (short or long acting) they had taken and probed some thought patterns around the pain they were experiencing.

They discovered that pain levels and higher catastrophizing lead to greater use of short-acting opioid whereas negative affect led to use of long-acting opioids. They also found that catastrophizing about their pain led patients to use more opioids even when pain levels were relatively low. The mEMA System allowed them to shed light on the momentary cognitive and affective mechanisms underlying prescription opioid use behaviors that had been previously hidden from view. 

Patrick Finan Ph.D.
Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins University
Journal of Pain

Boston Children’s Hospital: Ecological Momentary Intervention for Marijuana Use in Youth

Used motivational counseling with adolescents using marijuana. They found it effective but wondered if they could make it more effective by adding an ecological momentary intervention component.

They used the mEMA System to provide personalized messages to participants throughout the day that were tailored to the specific momentary context (e.g. hanging out with friends). The messages were personalized based on counselors in-person interactions with each participant then added into the app by the clinical team each week.

They found that participants in both the motivational counseling condition and the motivational counseling condition assisted by ecological momentary intervention showed reduced desire for and use of marijuana at the end of the study. And that desire to use marijuana during targeted contexts was reduced even more in the EMI assisted condition. Their patients enjoyed using the app and reading the messages. 

Lydia Shrier, MD, MPH
Attending physician at Boston Children’s Hospital
mHealth- Full Text

Harvard Medical School: Digital Phenotyping in Suicidal Ideation

Before work with the mEMA System suicidal thinking was seen as a homogenous construct. Typically snapshot assessments were taken days, weeks or months apart with missed the variation in suicidal thought that happens over hours. The available methodologies blunted our understanding.

A group from Harvard Medical School used the mEMA System for “digital phenotyping” – real-time characterization and quantification in human thought in situ.

They found five previously unknown distinct phenotypes of suicidal thought. there was a significant relationship between some of these phenotypes and a recent suicide attempt. This work has opened up a new avenue in the understanding of suicide and it’s prevention.