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A computer touch-screen version of the North American Spine Society outcome assessment instrument for the lumbar spine

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We validated the North American Spine Society (NASS) outcome-assessment instrument for the lumbar spine in a computerised touch-screen format and assessed patients’ acceptance, taking into account previous computer experience, age and gender.

Fifty consecutive patients with symptomatic and radiologically-proven degenerative disease of the lumbar spine completed both the hard copy (paper) and the computerised versions of the NASS questionnaire. Statistical analysis showed high agreement between the paper and the touch-screen computer format for both subscales (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.94, 95% confidence interval (0.90 to 0.97)) independent of computer experience, age and gender. In total, 55% of patients stated that the computer format was easier to use and 66% preferred it to the paper version (p < 0.0001 among subjects expressing a preference). Our data indicate that the touch-screen format is comparable to the paper form. It may improve follow-up in clinical practice and research by meeting patients’ preferences and minimising administrative work.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr S. Schaeren; e-mail: sschaeren@uhbs.ch

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