BACKGROUND: To review how daily symptom ratings have been used in research into premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and to discuss opportunities for the future.
METHODS: PsycINFO and Medline were systematically searched, resulting in the inclusion of 75 studies in which (1) participants met the diagnostic criteria for late luteal phase dysphoric disorder (LLPDD) or PMDD and (2) diaries were used to study LLPDD/PMDD.
RESULTS: To date, diaries have been used to gain insight into the aetiology and phenomenology of PMDD, to examine associated biological factors, and to assess treatment efficacy. We found low consistency among the diaries used, and often only part of the menstrual cycle was analysed instead of the whole menstrual cycle. We also observed that there was substantial variability in diagnostic procedures and criteria.
LIMITATIONS: This review excluded diary studies conducted in women with premenstrual syndrome, women seeking help for premenstrual complaints without a clear diagnosis, and women without premenstrual complaints.
CONCLUSIONS: Prospective daily ratings of symptoms and related variables provide a valuable and important tool in the study of PMDD. This paper addresses some options for improving the use of diaries and proposes the use of experience sampling and ecological momentary assessment to investigate within-person variability in symptoms in more detail.