BACKGROUND: Measuring change in health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) is important to assess the impact of disease and/or treatment. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) comprises the repeated assessment of momentary HRQoL in the natural environment and is particularly suited to capture daily experiences. Our objective was to study whether change in momentary measures or retrospective measures of HRQoL are more strongly associated with criterion measures of change in HRQoL. Twenty-six coronary artery disease patients completed momentary and retrospective HRQoL questionnaires before and after coronary revascularization. Momentary HRQoL was assessed with 14 items which were repeatedly presented 9 times a day for 7 consecutive days. Each momentary assessment period was followed by a retrospective HRQoL questionnaire that used the same items, albeit phrased in the past tense and employing a one-week time frame. Criterion measures of change comprised the New York Heart Association functioning classification system and the Subjective Significance Change Questionnaire. Regression analysis was used to determine the association of momentary and retrospective HRQoL change with the criterion measures of change.
RESULTS: Change according to momentary HRQoL items was more strongly associated with criterion measures of change than change according to retrospective HRQoL items. Five of 14 momentary items were significantly associated with the criterion measures. One association was found for the retrospective items, however, in the unexpected direction.
CONCLUSION: Momentary HRQoL measures better captured change in HRQoL after cardiac intervention than retrospective HRQoL measures. EMA is a valuable expansion of the armamentarium of psychometrically sound HRQoL measures.