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Real-time well-being measures

INTERACT is a pan-Canadian research collaboration of scientists, urban planners, public health officials, and engaged citizens uncovering how the design of our cities is shaping the health and well-being of Canadians. We track changes in urban environments and the resulting impact on people’s mobility, interactions, and well-being, including inequalities in both exposures and outcomes.

To do this, we use a diverse set of tools, including the Avicenna app to capture participants’ mobility patterns, physical activity, and well-being. We use Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) questionnaires, an ambulatory data collection method with measures obtained in real-time, in a real-life context, and which are repeated (Shiffman, Stone, & Hufford, 2008).

EMA is particularly interesting for the measurement of hedonic well-being (Liu, Xie, & Lou, 2019), given that it can capture self-reported data ‘in the moment’ via a smartphone application. EMA may reduce recall bias by asking questions about the present moment (e.g. ‘At this moment, I feel…’). The possibility for repeated assessments allows capturing potential daily variations in affective states that could be linked to environmental conditions or actual behaviors (Shiffman et al., 2008). Because EMA responses can also be tagged with GPS coordinates, it is possible to link momentary effects with environmental conditions obtained from existing GIS layers (Shiffman et al., 2008).

In our study, we program surveys with questions from the Short Mood Scale (Wilhelm & Schoebi, 2007) for 7 days in a row, 3 times a day. It is comprised of 6 questions on mood (3 dimensions: valence, calmness & energetic arousal, 2 bipolar questions per dimension). We also record the location of the participant at the time of completing the survey. With this data, we observe intra-person and intra-day variations in mood and study these in relation to the types of environments in which participants are at the time of completing the survey.

By enabling cities to measure and optimize the health benefits of their investments, our research aims to inspire sustainable urban development that will leave a lasting impact on population health, well-being, and equity in Canada.

Study Profile

Participation duration: 30 days

Sample size: 200-600 participants per site

Data sources:

  • Surveys
  • Location information
  • Motion recognition

Research Team

Yan Kestens, Ph.D.
École de Santé Publique de l'Université de Montréal
Centre de recherche du CHUM

Meghan Winters, Ph.D.
Faculty of Health Sciences
Simon Fraser University

Daniel Fuller, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Population Physical Activity
Memorial University of Newfoundland