Transformers for prompt-level EMA non-response prediction

Ecological Momentary Assessments (EMAs) are an important psychological data source for measuring current cognitive states, affect, behavior, and environmental factors from participants in mobile health (mHealth) studies and treatment programs. Non-response, in which participants fail to respond to EMA prompts, is an endemic problem. The ability to accurately predict non-response could be utilized to improve EMA delivery and develop compliance interventions. Prior work has explored classical machine learning models for predicting non-response. However, as increasingly large EMA datasets become available, there is the potential to leverage deep learning models that have been effective in other fields. Recently, transformer models have shown state-of-the-art performance in NLP and other domains. This work is the first to explore the use of transformers for EMA data analysis. We address three key questions in applying transformers to EMA data: 1. Input representation, 2. encoding temporal information, 3. utility of pre-training on improving downstream prediction task performance. The transformer model achieves a non-response prediction AUC of 0.77 and is significantly better than classical ML and LSTM-based deep learning models. We will make our a predictive model trained on a corpus of 40K EMA samples freely-available to the research community, in order to facilitate the development of future transformer-based EMA analysis works.

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