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Patient Use of Smartphones to Communicate Subjective Data in Clinical Trials

Woods, Craig A.*; Dumbleton, Kathryn†; Jones, Lyndon‡; Fonn, Desmond§

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3181ff9b80
Original Article

Purpose. Various methods have been used in clinical trials to collect time-sensitive subjective responses, including study diaries, telephone interviews, and use of text messaging. However, all of these methods are limited by the uncertainty of when the participants enrolled in the study actually record their responses. This technical note reports on the utility of the BlackBerry smartphone to collect such data and why such a system provides advantages over other methods to report subjective ratings in clinical studies.

Methods. The Centre for Contact Lens Research developed an on-line web-enabled system that permits participants to record and immediately transmit subjective rating scores in numerical form directly into a web-enabled database. This, combined with the utility of BlackBerrys, enabled time-specific e-mail requests to be sent to the study participants and then for that data to be simultaneously transmitted to the web-enabled database. This system has been used in several clinical trials conducted at the Centre for Contact Lens Research, in which data were collected at various times and in several specific locations or environments.

Results. In the clinical trials conducted using this system, participants provided responses on 97.5% of occasions to the requests for data generated by the automated system. When the request was for data on a set date, this method resulted in responses of 84.1% of the time.

Conclusions. The series of clinical trials reported here show the benefits of the utilization of the BlackBerry to collect time- or environment-sensitive data via a web-enabled system.

*PhD, MCOptom, FAAO

MSc, MCOptom, FAAO

PhD, FCOptom, FAAO

§BOptom, MOptom, FAAO

Centre for Contact Lens Research, School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1.

Funding for developing this system was made available by the CCLR.

None of the authors have any financial interest or gain associated with Research in Motion, Ltd.

Received October 2, 2009; revision received September 7, 2010.

Craig Woods; Centre for Contact Lens Research School of Optometry, University of Waterloo 200 University Avenue West Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1 e-mail:

© 2011 American Academy of Optometry