Frequent assessment of the symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD) is important in both clinical and experimental settings, especially when motor fluctuations are present. Patient diaries are increasingly used in studies, allowing patients to stay in their home environments. However, traditional paper diaries may not reflect reality because of a lack in compliance or retrospective data entries. This study presents a comparison between paper diaries and a new method, real-time data capture with a hand-held computer (electronic diary). Twenty patients with PD diagnosed at least 5 years previously were randomly assigned to use either a paper diary or an electronic diary on 8 days during 1 month. Questions were answered every 2 hours over a 12-hour period on each day. Median compliance was 88% with the electronic diary and 98% with the paper diary, although strict compliance to the scheduled times by patients using the paper diary was 78%. Neither age nor earlier experience with computers affected the patient's ability to use the electronic diary. Electronic diaries can be used for self-assessment of PD symptoms. The real-time feature provides fast access to clean data with knowledge of true compliance.
Copyright 2003 Movement Disorder Society