Computerized information-gathering in specialist rheumatology clinics: an initial evaluation of an electronic version of the Short Form 36

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2002 Mar;41(3):268-73. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/41.3.268.


Objectives: Longitudinal outcome data are important for research and are becoming part of routine clinical practice. We assessed an initial version of an electronic Short Form 36 (SF-36), a well-established health assessment questionnaire, in comparison with standard paper forms, in two specialist rheumatology clinics.

Methods: Out-patients (20 with systemic lupus erythematosus and 31 with vasculitis) were randomly selected to complete either paper (n=29) or electronic and paper SF-36 versions (n=51) before and after consultation (paper vs paper comparison). Data were evaluated as the response correlation, internal consistency, missing data, patient satisfaction and preference.

Results: There were very good correlations in SF-36 responses (P<0.001) between the paper and electronic forms and the paper and paper forms. Internal reliability coefficients (Cronbach's alpha) showed good internal consistency for all reported responses in either computer or paper forms. There were no missing data in the computerized version but 24% of patients failed to answer all of the paper form questions. Ease of use of the computer version was rated highly by 71% of all the respondents, and 69% would prefer to use the computer version in future.

Discussion: Computerized data collection is acceptable to patients and feasible in clinical settings. It provides responses that are at least comparable to those to the paper form, improves data capture and is available immediately.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Humans
  • Information Management / methods*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy
  • Outpatients
  • Quality of Life
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rheumatology / methods*
  • Sickness Impact Profile*
  • Vasculitis / physiopathology
  • Vasculitis / therapy