Constructing a Reward-Related Quality of Life Statistic in Daily Life: a Proof of Concept Study Using Positive Affect

Simone J. W. Verhagen, Claudia J. P. Simons, Catherine van Zelst, Philippe A. E. G. Delespaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Mental healthcare needs person-tailored interventions. Experience Sampling Method (ESM) can provide daily life monitoring of personal experiences. This study aims to operationalize and test a measure of momentary reward-related Quality of Life (rQoL). Intuitively, quality of life improves by spending more time on rewarding experiences. ESM clinical interventions can use this information to coach patients to find a realistic, optimal balance of positive experiences (maximize reward) in daily life. rQoL combines the frequency of engaging in a relevant context (a ‘behavior setting’) with concurrent (positive) affect. High rQoL occurs when the most frequent behavior settings are combined with positive affect or infrequent behavior settings co-occur with low positive affect.

Methods: Resampling procedures (Monte Carlo experiments) were applied to assess the reliability of rQoL using various behavior setting definitions under different sampling circumstances, for real or virtual subjects with low-, average- and high contextual variability. Furthermore, resampling was used to assess whether rQoL is a distinct concept from positive affect. Virtual ESM beep datasets were extracted from 1,058 valid ESM observations for virtual and real subjects.

Results: Behavior settings defined by Who-What contextual information were most informative. Simulations of at least 100 ESM observations are needed for reliable assessment. Virtual ESM beep datasets of a real subject can be defined by Who-What-Where behavior setting combinations. Large sample sizes are necessary for reliable rQoL assessments, except for subjects with low contextual variability. rQoL is distinct from positive affect.

Conclusion: rQoL is a feasible concept. Monte Carlo experiments should be used to assess the reliable implementation of an ESM statistic. Future research in ESM should asses the behavior of summary statistics under different sampling situations. This exploration is especially relevant in clinical implementation, where often only small datasets are available.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1917
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2017


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