Completed Research

A New Health Survey Technique

Measuring Health Outcomes: An empirical Comparison of Adaptive and Standard Questionnaires


Principal Investigator: Jacek Kopec, MD, PhD


Why do this research?

Sometimes when visiting a hospital or clinic a physician will ask patients to complete health questionnaires in order to get a better idea of what might be troubling them, to determine the effectiveness of a treatment or to predict what illnesses or symptoms a group of people may have.  These questionnaires are typically the “pen and paper” type and ask the patient to answer a series of questions regarding his or her health and related matters.  Unfortunately these questionnaires are not the best way to obtain a picture of someone’s health because they use the same questions regardless of the person’s condition.
A new way of administering health questionnaires involves using a computer.  In this new method, the computer chooses the next question based on a patient’s answer to a previous question.  Therefore, the questionnaire is “tailored” to the patient and his/her health.  The new questionnaire has the potential for assessing patient health more accurately and reliably.

Accurately knowing the effectiveness of a medical treatment can help physicians recommend new or different treatments for a patient.  Unlike traditional questionnaires, the computerized questionnaire is “tailored” to the patient allowing these new recommendations to better reflect the patient’s condition, which ultimately affect a patient’s level of disability and quality of life.


What was found?

The new computerized method was tested in patients with back-pain and was found to be feasible, reliable, valid, and efficient. This methodology can be recommended for use in back pain research and should improve outcome assessment, facilitate comparisons across studies, and reduce patient burden.


How was the study conducted?

130 patients with low back pain who were referred to the Combined Spine Program at VGH were asked to complete the new computerized questionnaire and two traditional, non-“tailored” questionnaires. 50 of these patients were asked to retake the computerized questionnaire at a later date to determine its reliability.



Computerized adaptive testing in back pain: validation of the CAT-5D-QOL.

Research Team


Maziar Badii, MD, FRCPC, MHSc; Research Scientist, ARC

Marcel Dvorak, MD, FRCSC Orthopaedic Clinical Assistant Professor; Orthopaedics, UBC, Medical Director, Combined Spine Program VGH

Other institutions

Vancouver General Hospital

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