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J Hand Surg Am. 2012 Dec;37(12):2589-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2012.09.010.

The use of a tablet computer to complete the DASH questionnaire.

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Division of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY 10021, USA.



To determine whether electronic self-administration of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) questionnaire using a tablet computer increased completion rate compared with paper self-administration.


We gave the DASH in self-administered paper form to 222 new patients in a single hand surgeon's practice. After a washout period of 5 weeks, we gave the DASH in self-administered tablet computer form to 264 new patients. A maximum of 3 questions could be omitted before the questionnaire was considered unscorable. We reviewed the submitted surveys to determine the number of scorable questionnaires and the number of omitted questions in each survey. We completed univariate analysis and regression modeling to determine the influence of survey administration type on respondent error while controlling for patient age and sex.


Of the 486 total surveys, 60 (12%) were not scorable. A significantly higher proportion of the paper surveys (24%) were unscorable compared with electronic surveys (2%), with significantly more questions omitted in each paper survey (2.6 ± 4.4 questions) than in each electronic survey (0.1 ± 0.8 questions). Logistic regression analysis revealed survey administration mode to be significantly associated with DASH scorability while controlling for age and sex, with electronic survey administration being 14 times more likely than paper administration to yield a scorable DASH.


In our retrospective series, electronic self-administration of the DASH decreased the number of omitted questions and yielded a higher number of scorable questionnaires. Prospective, randomized evaluation is needed to better delineate the effect of survey administration on respondent error.


Administration of the DASH with a tablet computer may be beneficial for both clinical and research endeavors to increase completion rate and to gain other benefits from electronic data capture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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