OBJECTIVE: Recent developments in research and mobile health enable a quantitative idiographic approach in health research. The present study investigates the potential of an electronic diary crowdsourcing study in the Netherlands for (1) large-scale automated self-assessment for individual-based health promotion and (2) enabling research at both the between-persons and within-persons level. To illustrate the latter, we examined between-persons and within-persons associations between somatic symptoms and quality of life.
METHODS: A website provided the general Dutch population access to a 30-day (3 times a day) diary study assessing 43 items related to health and well-being, which gave participants personalized feedback. Associations between somatic symptoms and quality of life were examined with a linear mixed model.
RESULTS: A total of 629 participants completed 28,430 assessments, with a mean (SD) of 45 (32) assessments per participant. Most participants (n = 517 [82%]) were women and 531 (84%) had high education. Almost 40% of the participants (n = 247) completed enough assessments (t = 68) to generate personalized feedback including temporal dynamics between well-being, health behavior, and emotions. Substantial between-person variability was found in the within-person association between somatic symptoms and quality of life.
CONCLUSIONS: We successfully built an application for automated diary assessments and personalized feedback. The application was used by a sample of mainly highly educated women, which suggests that the potential of our intensive diary assessment method for large-scale health promotion is limited. However, a rich data set was collected that allows for group-level and idiographic analyses that can shed light on etiological processes and may contribute to the development of empirical-based health promotion solutions.