Year: 2021 Source: Current Psychiatry Reports. (2021). 23, 41. SIEC No: 20210463

Purpose of Review
Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is a recently introduced approach to patient evaluation that consists of asking patients questions in real time and in their usual habitat. This method seeks to contribute to suicide prevention by providing psychiatrists with detailed information about suicidal thoughts and behavior, how these fluctuate over short periods of time, and the short-term risk factors presented by patients. We conducted a systematic review of published research using EMA to study suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Recent Findings
Several systematic reviews of EMA in mental health have been conducted to date, and the literature contains numerous theoretical papers and compilations on EMA and suicide phenomena. To date, however, no systematic reviews have explored the use of this tool to study suicidal thoughts and behavior.

We performed a systematic review of five databases (i.e., PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, and PsycINFO) to identify studies on EMA and suicidal thoughts and behavior. An initial search revealed 544 articles. Following the study selection process, 35 studies were included in the review. Almost three-quarters of the studies were published in the last 4 years. The studies reviewed concluded that EMA was generally feasible and well accepted. EMA findings correlated well with the results of a retrospective assessment, though tended to over-represent symptom severity. Our review points to important aspects of suicidal thoughts and behavior, such as its wide fluctuation over short periods of time. Negative affect and disturbed sleep, among others, emerged as short-term predictors of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Therefore, EMA is a potentially useful tool in clinical practice, although not without drawbacks, such as participant fatigue with questionnaires and ethical concerns.