Session: Understanding Behavior in Context Using Geo-Fences to Trigger Ecological Momentary Assessments: A Workshop (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

33 Understanding Behavior in Context Using Geo-Fences to Trigger Ecological Momentary Assessments: A Workshop

Thursday, January 16, 2020: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Liberty Ballroom J, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Substance Misuse and Addictive Behaviors (SM&AB)
Jaime Booth, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Cortney VanHook, MS, MPH, University of Pittsburgh, Daniel Sintim, BA, University of Pittsburgh, Kylea Covaleski, MSW, MPH, University of Pittsburgh and Dashawna Fussell-Ware, MSW, University of Pittsburgh
Ecological momentary assessments (EMA) are the repeated assessment of behaviors and experiences, such as substance use, conducted in real time during the course of everyday life. EMA allows researchers to minimize recall bias and enhance ecological validity when studying a variety of outcomes. Researchers employing EMA have utilized a variety of strategies such as: paper and electronic travel diaries, telephone interviews, surveys delivered by mobile application, and physiological sensors. Using EMA at periodic intervals during the day can give researchers insight into patterns of behavior, cognition, affect, and experiences over time and how they interact with context. The addition of GPS to EMA has the potential to connect peoples' perception and behavior to place. This connection may be particularly relevant in social work research investigating the relationship between macro and mezzo levels of the social environment and individuals' behavior. The proliferation of smartphones and social media has increased the feasibility of using research methods that combine GPS capabilities and EMA to study people in place. Increased use of the combination of EMA and GPS in social work research can allow for further investigation of the relationship between individuals, structures, and how the interaction influences well-being, including problematic substance use.

This workshop will be based on the ongoing work of the presenters' NIDA funded research study. In this study, EMA is triggered by geo-fences to understand youth experiences of activity in a low resource neighborhood and the relationship between their experiences, stress, and substance use. The goal of this workshop will be to provide an overview of ecological momentary assessments that incorporate GPS technology, describe its applicability to social work research, and demonstrate its implementation by discussing the ongoing research project. In this workshop we will 1) discuss the history of EMA, how it has evolved and what research questions it has been used to answer, 2) talk about GPS technology and how it is being used in research 3) discuss how EMA can be combined with GPS to understand peoples' experience in place, 4) discuss things that should be considered when designing a research study that combines GPS and EMA such as sampling, measurement, and analysis 5) go over technical issues such as applications that can be used and the limits of GPS and 6) provide a demonstration of MetricWire, a mobile application that can be used to trigger EMA surveys based on geo location. At the end of the workshop participants will have a clear understanding of 1) the types of research questions that can be addressed by combining EMAs and GPS technology, 2) aspects of study designs that they may need to consider when designing a study that uses EMA and GPS and 3) the possibilities and limitations of MetricWire, a mobile application that allows implementation of this type of design. Finally, there will be an open dialogue about the future direction of EMA and GPS in Social Work research and ethical issues that should be considered when doing this work.

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