Electronic visual analogue scales for pain, fatigue, anxiety and quality of life in people with multiple sclerosis using smartphone and tablet: a reliability and feasibility study

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Abstract

Objective:

To explore the reliability and feasibility of electronic visual analogue scales in people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and healthy individuals.

Design:

Cross-sectional observational study

Setting:

Clinical setting

Subjects:

Convenience sample of 52 people with MS and 52 matched healthy controls

Interventions:

NA

Main measures:

Participants scored 15 statements assessing fatigue, pain, anxiety and quality of life on an electronic visual analogue scale (eVAS), either using a smartphone or a tablet (randomly allocated). To check for test-retest reliability, statements were administered in two separate randomly ordered groups. Subjects completed a feasibility questionnaire.

Results:

Mean (SD) eVAS scores ranged from 35 (28.1) to 80 (22.1) in MS group, and from 57 (28.0) to 86 (13.2) in controls. Intra Class Correlations ranged from 0.73 to 0.95 in MS sample; 0.61 to 0.92 in controls. For most statements, Bland-Altman plots indicated no systematic error, but relatively large random error of the eVAS scores (exceeding 20mm). Considerable ceiling effects (i.e. better health) were found in healthy controls. Similar reliability was found among smartphone or tablet, different demographic groups and the experience-groups.

Conclusion:

Electronic visual analogue scales are reliable and useful for people with MS to register fatigue, pain, anxiety and quality of life.

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