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Pain Research and Management
Volume 13, Issue 5, Pages 375-382
Original Article

Working Out the Kinks: Testing the Feasibility of an Electronic Pain Diary for Adolescents with Arthritis

Jennifer N Stinson,1,2 Guy C Petroz,2,3 Bonnie J Stevens,1,2 Brian M Feldman,2,4,5,7 David Streiner,6,8 Patrick J McGrath,9,10 and Navreet Gill2

1Lawrence S Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
3Department of Anaesthesia, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
4Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5Department of Health Policy Management & Evaluation, Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
6Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
7Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
8Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
9Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
10IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Current approaches to evaluating pain in children with chronic arthritis suffer from methodological problems. A real-time data capture approach using electronic diaries has been proposed as a new standard for pain measurement. However, there is limited information available regarding the development and feasibility of this approach in children.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to pilot test the e-Ouch electronic pain diary in terms of compliance and acceptability in adolescents with arthritis to further refine the prototype.

METHODS: A descriptive study design – with two iterative phases of testing, modifying the prototype and retesting – was used. A purposive sample of 13 adolescents with mild to severe pain and disability was drawn from a large rheumatology clinic in a university-affiliated pediatric tertiary care centre in Canada over a four-week period in December 2004. Participants were signalled with an alarm to use the diary three times per day for a two-week period. Adolescents completed an electronic diary acceptability questionnaire.

RESULTS: Overall mean compliance rates for phases 1 and 2 were 72.9% and 70.5%, respectively. Compliance was affected by the timing of data collection and technical difficulties. Children rated the diary as highly acceptable and easy to use. Phase 1 testing revealed aspects of the software program that affected compliance, which were subsequently altered and tested in phase 2. No further technical difficulties arose in phase 2 testing.

CONCLUSIONS: Feasibility testing is a crucial first step in the development of electronic pain measures before use in clinical and research practice.