What do Patients Want When Interacting with eDiaries? A 3-Part Series


This 3-part series presents results from a study of patient preferences regarding electronic Clinical Outcome Assessments in clinical trials. Part 2 covers how sponsors can improve upon their user interface of electronic diaries.

Learnings from a study of patient preferences regarding electronic Clinical Outcome Assessments (eCOA) in Clinical Trials

  Much research has been done to document patients’ preferences for electronic diaries (eDiary) over the traditional pen-and-paper approach. However, industry has had little insight into how patients prefer to interact with eCOA. This series presents the findings from a study conducted to understand what patients want when completing eCOA assessments during clinical trials.  

Click here

to view Part 1 of the series, “Improving Study Design and Logistics” which appeared October 6, 2016.   Survey data from 408 patients with osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, or type II diabetes were collected in the following categories:  patient engagement, compliance, ease of use, and feedback on specific eCOA features.  In total, 132 different questions were asked. The learnings indicate that even very simple changes in study design and user interface can go a long way toward adding a more human quality to the use of eCOA and promoting patient engagement during clinical trials.  

Part 2:  Improving user interface:

  • For larger eCOA screens (tablet and desktop), patients preferr a top-to-bottom question/answer layout which more closely mirrors the format of paper questionnaires, versus having question text on the left side of the screen and answer options on the right side.

  • To show wording emphasis on an eCOA screen, patients prefer underlined words over other techniques (capitalized, bold, or italic wording).

  • Patients prefer to see one question per screen, noting that this format is easier to read than displaying multiple questions per screen. While it may seem simple, this finding represents a bit of a paradigm shift in that it has long been surmised that fewer clicks or screens on the device would be preferable to patients and represent a shorter completion time and less patient burden.

  • On handheld eCOA devices, patients prefer the navigation buttons (e.g., “Next” and “Back”) to be presented at the bottom of the screen, rather than the top of the screen.

  • Given the option, patients prefer to use visual analog scales (VAS) that include text anchor labels, numeric indicators (e.g., 0, 50, and 100) and tick marks on the scale at regular increments, rather than a version of the VAS without numeric indicators or tick marks.

Check back next week for

Part 3

of the series where we’ll review how sponsors can

humanize eCOA

to help patient engagement with eCOA during clinical trials.    Susan Dallabrida, PhD and Laura Khurana, MPH, ERT  

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