Background: Behavior and emotions are closely intertwined. The relationship between behavior and emotions might be particularly important in populations of underserved people, such as people with physical or mental health issues. We used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine the relationship between emotional state and other characteristics among people with a history of chronic homelessness who were participating in a health coaching program. Objective: The goal of this study was to identify relationships between daily emotional states (valence and arousal) shortly after waking and behavioral variables such as physical activity, diet, social interaction, medication compliance, and tobacco usage the prior day, controlling for demographic characteristics. Methods: Participants in m.chat, a technology-assisted health coaching program, were recruited from housing agencies in Fort Worth, Texas, United States. All participants had a history of chronic homelessness and reported at least one mental health condition. We asked a subset of participants to complete daily EMAs of emotions and other behaviors. From the circumplex model of affect, the EMA included 9 questions related to the current emotional state of the participant (happy, frustrated, sad, worried, restless, excited, calm, bored, and sluggish). The responses were used to calculate two composite scores for valence and arousal. Results: Nonwhites reported higher scores for both valence and arousal, but not at a statistically significant level after correcting for multiple testing. Among momentary predictors, greater time spent in one-on-one interactions, greater time spent in physical activities, a greater number of servings of fruits and vegetables, greater time spent interacting in a one-on-one setting as well as adherence to prescribed medication the previous day were generally associated with higher scores for both valence and arousal, and statistical significance was achieved in most cases. Number of cigarettes smoked the previous day was generally associated with lower scores on both valence and arousal, although statistical significance was achieved for valence only when correcting for multiple testing. Conclusions: This study provides an important glimpse into factors that predict morning emotions among people with mental health issues and a history of chronic homelessness. Behaviors considered to be positive (eg, physical activity and consumption of fruits and vegetables) generally enhanced positive affect and restrained negative affect the following morning. The opposite was true for behaviors such as smoking, which are considered to be negative.
- Circumplex model of affect
- Ecological momentary assessment
- Hierarchical mixed effects model
- Mobile phone
- Permanent supportive housing