Accuracy, validity and reliability of an electronic visual analogue scale for pain on a touch screen tablet in healthy older adults: A clinical trial

Marie-Louise Bird, Michele L. Callisaya, John Cannell, Timothy Gibbons, Stuart T. Smith, Kiran Ahuja

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Background: New technology for clinical data collection is rapidly evolving and may be useful for both researchers and clinicians; however, this new technology has not been tested for accuracy, reliability, or validity. Objective: This study aims to test the accuracy of visual analog scale (VAS) for pain on a newly designed application on the iPad (iPadVAS) and measure the reliability and validity of iPadVAS compared to a paper copy (paperVAS). Methods: Accuracy was determined by physically measuring an iPad scale on screen and comparing it to the results from the program, with a researcher collecting 101 data points. A total of 22 healthy community dwelling older adults were then recruited to test reliability and validity. Each participant completed 8 VAS (4 using each tool) in a randomized order. Reliability was measured using interclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and validity measured using Bland-Altman graphs and correlations. Results: Of the measurements for accuracy, 64 results were identical, 2 results were manually measured as being 1 mm higher than the program, and 35 as 1 mm lower. Reliability for the iPadVAS was excellent with individual ICC 0.90 (95% CI 0.82-0.95) and averaged ICC 0.97 (95% CI 0.95-1.0) observed. Linear regression demonstrated a strong relationship with a small negative bias towards the iPad (−2.6, SD 5.0) with limits of agreement from −12.4 to 7.1. Conclusions: The iPadVAS provides a convenient, user-friendly, and efficient way of collecting data from participants in measuring their current pain levels. It has potential use in documentation management and may encourage participatory healthcare. Trial Registration: Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): 367297; (Archived by Webcite at
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3
Number of pages8
JournalInteractive Journal of Medical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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