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Table 1 Summary of randomized controlled trials comparing handheld computers to paper and pen.

From: A review of randomized controlled trials comparing the effectiveness of hand held computers with paper methods for data collection

Study Purpose Design Duration of Follow Up Location Patient Population Number of Subjects Instrument and Mode of Entry Outcome Measures
Quinn P et al. 2003 33 To assess the effectiveness of a portable electronic diary as a data collection device for symptoms of an overactive bladder (OAB) Randomized crossover study 7 days/arm, 14 days total. Patient's residence Patients with a diagnosis of over-active bladder. 35 patients were recruited, 2 were excluded post randomization. Intervention:
• Customized version of MiniDoc
• Daily diary
• Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)
Control:
• Paper diary
• Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)
Effectiveness of the electronic diary
Acceptability to patients
Jamison RN et al. 2002 34 To compare the e-VAS (electronic) with p-VAS (paper) for cognitive and sensory stimuli. Single centre randomized crossover study Data collected in a 1 hour session Institution Healthy volunteers 24 subjects Intervention:
• Palm Pilot IIIxe
• Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)
Control:
• Paper Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)
Validity and equivalence of methods
Lal SO et al. 2000 35 To determine whether electronic data collection and downloading to a personal computer spreadsheet is faster and more accurate than written data. Randomized crossover design Chart data collected within a 96 hour window period Shriners Burns Hospital Medical student volunteering for data collection 3 medical students retrieving data from 110 medical charts Intervention:
• 3Com Palm IIIx
• Data entry into an Excel spreadsheet
Control:
• Paper duplicate of Excel spreadsheet.
Speed/Time
Accuracy as measured by error incidence
McBride JS et al. 1999 36 To examine how data can be collected at point of care. Comparison of electronic and paper versions of a standard quality survey. Randomized design Data collected in one session Wake Forest PhysiciansOrthopedics Department Clinics Patients visiting an orthopedic clinic 349 patients Intervention:
• Mini Doc, a portable electronic data capturing device.
Control:
• Paper and pencil survey form
Accuracy
Acceptibility to patients
Internal consistency reliability
Stratton RJ et al. 1998 37 To assess an electronic visual analogue scale with a paper method for appetite rating To examine test-retest reliability. Randomized crossover study design 4 day study Test-retest over 2 additional days Subject's residence Healthy free-living volunteers 12 volunteers participated in comparison study, 13 participated in preference study Intervention:
• Apple Newton Message Pad
• visual analogue scale questionnaire
Control:
• Paper and pencil
• visual analogue scale questionnaire
Comparability of methods (Equivalence)
Patient preferences
Tiplady B et al. 1997 (study 1) 38 To assess the suitability of PDAs compared to paper diaries, for daily collection of data on lung function. Randomized two period crossover design 1 month/arm Patient's residence Out-patients with chronic obstructive airways disease 22 patients Intervention:
• Apple Message Pad
• Daily diary
Control:
• Paper and pencil
• Daily diary
Comparability of methods, re: data quality (missing and problematic data)
Tiplady B et al. 1997 (study 2) 38 To assess the suitability of electronic diary for home use, transmitting respirology data. Observational study Completed electronic diary for 1 month Patient's residence Patients with chronic airways disease. 37 patients Intervention:
• Apple Message Pad.
• Daily diary
Patient preferences
Ease of use
Drummond HE et al. 1995 39 To compare the responses obtained from a quality of life (QOL) questionnaires using electronic (PDA) and conventional (paper). Randomized, open, two period crossover 3 office visits; 1 for training, 1 to complete each arm. Institution Patients attending a gastrointestinal clinic as outpatients 46 patients Intervention:
• Apple Newton Message Pad.
• Quality of Life questionnaire (QOL)
Control:
• Paper and pencil
Comparability of methods, looking at missing and problematic data
Patient preferences
Rivellesse AA et al. 1991 40 To evaluate an electronic (Food-Meter) method for recording 7-day food intake. Randomized cross-over design repeated once. 4 weeks • patient's residence Insulin-dependent diabetic patients (IDDM) 21 Intervention:
• "Food-Meter" (Miles, Elkhart, IN)
• Daily diary
Control:
• Paper and pencil
• Daily diary
Agreement between methods
Walker I et al. 2004 32 To compare handheld computers and paper diaries for recording intravenous infusions of hemophilic clotting factor concentrates. Randomized controlled trial, parallel design. 6 months • patients' residence Patients with hemophilia 41 Intervention:
• Palm III with bar code reader
Control:
• Touch-sensitive paper diary.
Compliance Timeliness Accuracy Preference