Daily life functioning of community-dwelling elderly couples: an investigation of the feasibility and validity of Ecological Momentary Assessment

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Although ambulatory data collection techniques have been used in elderly populations, their feasibility and validity amongst elderly individuals with cognitive impairment and amongst couples remains unexplored. The main objective of this study is to examine the validity of Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) in elderly persons with or without cognitive impairment and their spouses. The sample included 58 retired farmers (mean 77.3 years, standard deviation [SD] 5.5) with or without cognitive impairment, recruited within a French cohort and 60 spouses (mean 73.4 years, SD 6.9). The presence of cognitive impairment determining by a panel of specialized neurologists permitted to define two groups: “The Cognitive Impairment Group” and “The Control Group”. EMA procedures consisted of repeated telephone interviews five times per day during four days for each spouse. Our results demonstrate the validity of EMA procedures through a 92.1% level of compliance, the absence of fatigue effects, and the lack of evidence for major reactivity to the methods. However, the specificity of our sample may explain the acceptance (42%) and response (75%) rates and may reduce the generalizability of the results to the general population of elderly individuals. Finally, the validation of such techniques may contribute to future research examining community-dwelling elderly individuals and their spouses. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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