Modern technology puts into question the effectiveness of using pen and paper as a means of collecting information from web-enabled patients. This study aimed to validate and test the reliability of using the Internet as a method of administering health-related quality of life questionnaires in a pediatric spine population.Methods:
A prospective randomized crossover study was conducted. Patients aged 11 to 18 with idiopathic scoliosis were invited to participate, and informed consent was obtained from a scoliosis outpatient clinic setting. Participants were randomized to one of 4 groups determining the method of questionnaire administration [Scoliosis Research Society 30 (SRS-30) and Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument (PODCI)]. Both questionnaires were completed at 2 separate timepoints and 2 weeks apart to prevent recall bias. Groups included: Paper/Paper, Paper/Internet, Internet/Paper, and Internet/Internet. Paired-samples t tests were used to determine the test-retest reliability of each group. Analysis was stratified for surveys returned within or outside of the allotted 4-week timeframe following enrollment.Results:
Of the 96 participants who completed and returned both sets of questionnaires, 26 were allocated to the Paper/Paper group (27%), 20 to the Paper/Internet group (21%), 26 to the Internet/Paper group (27%), and 24 to the Internet/Internet group (25%). The second iteration of questionnaires was returned on time by 69 of the participants (71.2%). Of the late questionnaires, 18 (67%) were paper forms. Overall, no differences were observed between Internet-administered compared with pen and paper–administered questionnaires (P=0.206). No differences were observed within any group individually for either the SRS-30 or PODCI questionnaire. In addition, no significant differences were observed within groups for surveys returned within or outside of the 4-week timeframe. Eighty-four percent of the participants who completed both paper and Internet versions of the questionnaires reported a preference of the Internet.Conclusion:
Internet administration of both the SRS-30 and PODCI questionnaires is a valid and reliable method of acquiring health-related quality of life information in this populationLevel of Evidence:
Level II—therapeutic study.