The use of computer touch-screen technology for the collection of patient-reported outcome data in rheumatoid arthritis: comparison with standardized paper questionnaires

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2009 May-Jun;27(3):459-68.


Objectives: To investigate the acceptability, feasibility, reliability and score agreement of collecting rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient-reported outcome (PRO) data using an interactive touch-screen computer system.

Methods: Eighty-seven RA patients completed both the touch-screen and conventional paper-administered set of questionnaires. For this purpose, we have developed a computerized touch-screen system, namely RHEUMATISM (RHEUMA Touch-screen Italian SysteM), to capture PRO data. Variables recorded include the following information: demographic data, VAS scores for pain, patient's and physician's assessment of global activity, and physician's assessment of general health status, 28-joint counts measuring tender and swollen joint, patient self-reported tender joint count, Recent-Onset Arthritis Disability index, and laboratory findings. In a further test-retest study, 35 patients were evaluated.

Results: Although over half the patients had no prior computer experience, nearly all found the touch-screen easy to use. Moreover, 86% of the patients preferred the computer format to the paper format (2%) and 12% of subjects had no preference. The quality of the data collected with the touch-screen system was good, with no missed responses. Agreement between scores obtained with the two modes of administration was very good, with concordance correlation coefficients (CCCs) from 0.887 to 0.972. CCCs were similar in men and in women, in subjects with or without prior computer experience and in subjects below or above age 65. The electronic questionnaire had good test-retest reliability (CCCs from 0.836 to 0.907).

Conclusions: Computer touch-screen questionnaires were well accepted by RA patients, with good data quality, reliability and score agreement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / psychology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Outpatients*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Software*


  • Antirheumatic Agents