Applications of the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) in paediatric healthcare: a systematic review


Background With the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) participants are asked to provide self-reports of their symptoms, feelings, thoughts and behaviours in daily life. This preregistered systematic review assessed how ESM is being used to monitor emotional well-being, somatic health, fatigue and pain in children and adolescents with a chronic somatic illness.
Methods Databases were searched from inception. Studies were selected if they included children or adolescents aged 0–25 years with a chronic somatic illness and used ESM focussing on mental health or psychosocial wellbeing, biopsychosocial factors and/or somatic health. Two reviewers extracted data of the final 47 papers, describing 48 studies.
Results Most studies evaluated what factors influence medical or psychological symptoms and how symptoms influence each other. Another common purpose was to study the feasibility of ESM or ESM as part of an app or intervention. Study methods were heterogeneous and most studies lack adequate reporting of ESM applications and results.
Conclusions While ESM holds great potential for providing results and feedback to patients and caregivers, little use is being made of this option. Future studies should consider what they report in their studies, conduct a priori power analyses and how ESM can be embedded in clinical practice.

Pediatric Research
Marije van Dalen
Marije van Dalen
Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include the mental health and well-being of adolescents with a chronic illness.