Objectives: to verify the feasibility and reliability of the electronic version of Chinese SF-36 based on the Quality-of-Life-Recorder.
Design: A crossover randomized controlled trial, comparing a paper-based and an electronic version of the Chinese SF-36, was conducted. According to generated random numbers, interviewees were asked to fill out either the electronic version or the paper version first. The second version was filled in after a pause of at least 10 min.
Settings and participants: One group of 100 medical students at the School of Medicine of Zhejiang University and the other group of 50 outpatients at a clinic for general practice in Hangzhou City (China) were eventually recruited in this study.
Results: The acceptance of the electronic version was good (60% of medical students and 84% of outpatients preferred the electronic version). At the level of eight-scale scores, the mean-difference for each scale (except for general health) between the two versions was less than 5%. At the level of 36 questions, the percentage of "exact agreement" ranged within 64%-99%; the percentage of "global agreement" ranged within 72%-99%; 77% of the kappa coefficients demonstrated "good/excellent agreement" and 23% of the kappa coefficients demonstrated "medium agreement".
Conclusion: This study, for the first time, can provide empirical basis for the confirmation of the feasibility and reliability of the electronic version of the Chinese SF-36 and may provide an impulse towards widespread deployment of the Quality-of-Life-Recorder in Chinese populations.