Frequent Assessment of Negative Symptoms Does Not Induce Depressed Mood

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Use of real-time data collection is rapidly expanding in the medical sciences and questions have been raised as to whether frequent ratings of disease symptoms could evoke depressed mood. This study investigated the effect of an intensive momentary assessment protocol on depressed mood. Community rheumatology patients (N = 105) were recruited to participate in a 30-day momentary assessment protocol of pain and fatigue. Patients were randomly signaled and completed approximately 6 ratings per day and at bedtime. Beck Depression Inventory-II scores were obtained prior to and at the completion of the protocol. Thirty-six percent of patients were classified initially as mild to severely depressed, and 31% percent at the end of the protocol. Depression scores were significantly lower following the protocol (p < .001). Whereas 10% of patients shifted into a more depressed category at the end of the protocol, 20% shifted into a less depressed category. These findings suggest frequent assessment of pain and fatigue may not induce depressed mood, and may in some instances be associated with a small reduction in depressed mood.

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