Measuring digital intervention user experience with a novel ecological momentary assessment (EMA) method, CORTO

Lauri Lukka*, Veli Matti Karhulahti, Vilma Reetta Bergman, J. Matias Palva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Downloads (Pure)


Digital interventions often suffer from low usage, which may reflect insufficient attention to user experience. Moreover, the existing evaluation methods have limited applicability in the remote study of user experience of complex interventions that have expansive content and that are used over an extensive period of time. To alleviate these challenges, we describe here a novel qualitative Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) method: the CORTO method (Contextual, One-item, Repeated, Timely, Open-ended). We used it to gather digital intervention user experience data from Finnish adults (n = 184) who lived with interview-confirmed major depressive disorder (MDD) and took part in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that studied the efficacy of a novel 12-week game-based digital intervention for depression. A second dataset on user experience was gathered with retrospective interviews (n = 22). We inductively coded the CORTO method and retrospective interview data, which led to four user experience categories: (1) contextual use, (2) interaction-elicited emotional experience, (3) usability, and (4) technical issues. Then, we used the created user experience categories and Template Analysis to analyze both datasets together, and reported the results qualitatively. Finally, we compared the two datasets with each other. We found that the data generated with the CORTO method offered more insights into usability and technical categories than the interview data that particularly illustrated the contextual use. The emotional valence of the interview data was more positive compared with the CORTO data. Both the CORTO and interview data detected 55 % of the micro-level categories; 20 % of micro-level categories were only detected by the CORTO data and 25 % only by the interview data. We found that the during-intervention user experience measurement with the CORTO method can provide intervention-specific insights, and thereby further the iterative user-centered intervention development. Overall, these findings highlight the impact of evaluation methods on the categories and qualities of insights acquired in intervention research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100706
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternet Interventions
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Digital interventions
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Engagement
  • Evaluation methods
  • Formative evaluation
  • Interviewing
  • Mental health
  • Methodology
  • Mixed methods
  • Qualitative study
  • Questionnaire
  • Remote study
  • Serious games
  • User experience


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring digital intervention user experience with a novel ecological momentary assessment (EMA) method, CORTO'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this