A Randomized Study of Electronic Diary versus Paper and Pencil Collection of Patient-Reported Outcomes in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Patient. 2008 Apr 1;1(2):105-13. doi: 10.2165/01312067-200801020-00006.


Background: Hand-held electronic devices may provide a simple reproducible means by which quality of life (QOL) may be documented in patients with cancer. However, the QOL scales that are routinely used were originally validated when used with paper and pencil data collection. Patient-reported outcomes acquired using hand-held electronic devices (electronic patient-reported outcomes [e-PRO]) may not be the same as those acquired using paper and pencil, so validation of this method of data collection is needed.

Objectives: This study aimed to compare the results of e-PRO and paper and pencil collection of Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung (FACT-L) and EuroQol-5 Dimension (EQ-5D) QOL data in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and to ascertain patients' preferences for the different modes of collection.

Methods: This randomized, single-cohort, crossover study was performed in a tertiary referral hospital cancer center. Fifty patients with previously treated locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC were randomized in a 1 : 1 ratio to complete either paper versions of the questionnaires (FACT-L and EQ-5D) followed by the e-PRO versions, or the e-PRO questionnaire followed by the paper versions.

Results: The majority (88%) of the FACT-L and all (100%) of the EQ-5D individual question responses were within ±1 point of each other when data collection via e-PRO and via pencil and paper were compared. There was no significant difference between the mean total FACT-L scores obtained using the two methods; however, 29% of patients had a difference between FACT-L total scores obtained with the two methods that was greater than ±6 points. The mean completion time was shorter for the paper and pencil method than the e-PRO method (p < 0.0001). However, most patients stated that they preferred the e-PRO method over paper and pencil (60% vs 12%).

Conclusion: This study suggests that the mode of administration of the FACT-L and EQ-5D had a relatively small effect on the mean responses given to the questionnaires in patients with advanced NSCLC. However, at the individual patient level, data varied considerably between the different modes of administration. Therefore, the group results obtained using the e-PRO should be similar to the originally validated paper method, with the advantages of improved patient acceptability and ease of reliable interfacing with trial databases.