Open Access Research

Serial personal digital assistant data capture of health-related quality of life: A randomized controlled trial in a prostate cancer clinic

Andrew G Matthew12, Kristen L Currie1*, Jane Irvine23, Paul Ritvo245, Daniel Santa Mina1, Leah Jamnicky1, Robert Nam26 and John Trachtenberg12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgical Oncology, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2 Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3 Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele St, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada

4 School of Kinesiology & Health Science, York University, 4700 Keele St, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada

5 Division of Preventive Oncology, Cancer Care Ontario, 620 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2M9, Canada

6 Divisions of Urology and Surgical Oncology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4N 3M5, Canada

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2007, 5:38  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-5-38

Published: 6 July 2007



In clinical and research practice linked to prostate cancer treatment, frequent monitoring of patient health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is essential. Practical and analytic limitations of paper questionnaire data capture may be overcome with the use of self-administered personal digital assistant (PDA) data collection. The objective of this study was to assess the reliability, validity, and feasibility of using PDA in place of paper versions of the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), the Patient Oriented Prostate Cancer Utility Survey (PORPUS), and the International Index of Erectile Function-5 (IIEF-5) in a prostate cancer clinic setting.


152 participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) paper followed by PDA survey; 2) PDA followed by paper survey; or 3) PDA followed by PDA survey. Evaluation included an assessment of data quality (internal consistency, test-retest reliability, response correlation, completeness of data), and feasibility (participation rates, time to completion, preference and difficultly/ease of using PDA).


Internal consistency was similar for both PDA and paper applications. Test-retest reliability was confirmed for PDA repeated administration. Data from paper and PDA questionnaires were strongly correlated. Lower missed item rates were found in PDA administration. 82.8% of participants preferred using the PDA or had no preference. Mean difficulty/ease ratings indicated that participants found the PDA easy to use. Age did not significantly correlate with preference or difficulty.


The results confirm the adaptability of the IPSS, IIEF-5, and the PORPUS to PDA administration. Similarly, the findings of this study support the feasibility of using PDA technology for HRQOL serial data capture in the prostate cancer patient population.