Objectives: In a randomized study, the authors examine how data can be collected at the point of care. Specifically, examining to what extent handheld computer data collection systems introduce bias or increase respondent difficulty.
Methods: Volunteers were randomized to 1 of 2 survey methods: the hand-held computer or a paper and pencil form of similar content. Differences between group scale scores were compared using the Wilcoxon (rank sum) test.
Results: The hand-held computer system produced comparable scores to paper and pencil surveys. However, there was evidence of lower internal consistency reliability with the handheld computer.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated the comparability of the hand-held computer methodology to the paper and pencil methodology in obtaining survey information in an ambulatory clinic. The hand-held computer method of survey data collection offers an alternative to paper methods when point-of-care administration is acceptable. Preliminary evidence shows that this method produces comparable results to paper forms.