Hypothesis: Compliance with a paper diary protocol would be improved by using auditory signaling.
Background: Prior research has demonstrated that compliance with the reporting schedule in paper diary protocols is poor.
Methods: Adults with chronic pain (N = 27) were recruited from the community to participate in a 24-day experience sampling protocol of 3 pain assessments per day (10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m.). Diaries were instrumented to record openings and closings, thereby permitting determination of date and time when the participant could have made diary entries. Participants were signaled with a programmed wristwatch at the onset of each 30-min assessment window. Two compliance windows were defined: -/+ 15 min and -/+ 45 min of the targeted assessment time.
Results: Self-reported compliance based on participants' paper diaries was 85% and 91% for the 30- and 90-min windows. Verified compliance was 29% and 39% for the two windows. Signaling produced a significant increment in verified compliance when compared with an identical trial without signaling. A significant eroding of verified compliance was observed across the 3 weeks of the study.
Conclusions: Self-report dating of diary entries may be misleading investigators about compliance with diary protocols. Although auditory signaling enhances compliance, the result is still unsatisfactory.