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Qual Life Res. 2000;9(7):811-7.

The reliability and internal consistency of an Internet-capable computer program for measuring utilities.

Author information

  • 1Section on Health Services Research, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, CA 92161, USA. llenert@ucsd.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability and internal consistency of measurements of utilities performed with a computer program (iMPACT2) designed for Internet surveys and Internet patient decision-support systems.

METHODS:

We implemented the Internet Multimedia Preference Assessor Construction Tool, version 2 (iMPACT2) program using the combination of a web server, HTML files, and a web-accessible database. The program randomized subjects, screened their responses for missing data and failures of internal consistency, assisted patients with resolving certain inconsistencies, and, upon a subject's completion of the protocol, provided a report of results to the research assistant administering the program. To validate the iMPACT2 program, we recruited 60 healthy community volunteers and elicited preferences in a research-lab setting using a visual analog scale (VAS) and the standard gamble (SG) for subject's current health and three hypothetical states. For purposes of comparison, we also administered a Short Form-12 (SF-12) health-assessment questionnaire. Subjects used the computer software on two occasions separated by 2-4 weeks of time.

RESULTS:

Visual analog scale and standard gamble ratings for subjects' current health were reliable (intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of 0.82 and 0.84 (two outliers excluded -0.60 without exclusions), respectively) were comparable with the reliability of the Physical and Mental Component scales of the SF-12 (ICCs of 0.84 and 0.75, respectively). Subjects could easily discriminate between hypothetical states (D scores 0.74 for SG and 0.90 for VAS), and 94% had a completely internally consistent ordering of preference ratings for states.

CONCLUSIONS:

iMPACT2 produces measurements of standard gamble utilities that are reliable and have a high degree of internal consistency. Procedures for assessment of utilities developed for desktop computer programs can be translated to software designed for the Internet, facilitating the use of utilities and endpoints in clinical trials and development of web-based decision-support applications for patients. However, further testing, including direct comparisons with traditional interviewer administered utility elicitation protocols, is needed.

PMID:
11297023
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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