Current state and future directions of technology-based ecological momentary assessments and interventions for major depressive disorder: Protocol for a systematic review

Desirée Colombo, Azucena Garcia Palacios, Javier Fernandez Alvarez, Andrea Patané, Michelle Semonella, Pietro Cipresso, Marta Kwiatkowska, Giuseppe Riva, Cristina Botella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Ecological momentary assessments (EMAs) and ecological momentary interventions (EMIs) represent a novel approach for the assessment and delivery of psychological support to depressed patients in daily life. Beyond the classical paper-and-pencil daily diaries, the more recent progresses in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) enabled researchers to bring all the needed processes together in only one device, i.e., response signaling, repeated symptom collection, information storage, secure data transfer, and psychological support delivery. Despite evidence showing the feasibility and acceptability of these techniques, EMAs are only beginning to be applied in real clinical practice, whether the development of EMIs for clinically depressed patients is still very limited. The objective of this systematic review is to provide the state of the art of technology-based EMAs and EMIs for major depressive disorder (MDD), with the aim of leading the way to possible future directions for the clinical practice. Methods: We will conduct a systematic review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Data sources will include two bibliographic databases, PubMed and Web of Science (Web of Knowledge), supplemented by searches for unpublished or ongoing studies. Eligible studies will report data for adult (≥ 18 years old) with a primary (both current and past) diagnosis of MDD, defined by a valid criterion standard. We will consider studies adopting technology-based EMAs and EMIs for the investigation and/or assessment of depression and for the delivery of a psychological intervention. We will exclude studies adopting paper-and-pencil tools. Discussion: The proposed systematic review will provide new insights on the advantages and benefits of adopting technology-based EMAs and EMIs for MDD in the traditional clinical practice, taking into consideration both clinical and technological issues. The potential of using sensors and biosensors along with machine learning for affective modeling will also be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number233
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 13 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the Marie Curie EF-ST AffecTech Project, approved at call H2020 – MSCA – ITN – 2016 (project reference: 722022).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Ecological momentary intervention
  • Major depressive disorder
  • mHealth


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