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An electronic diary is shown to be more reliable than a paper diary: results from a randomized crossover study in patients with persistent asthma.

J Asthma. 2012 Nov;49(9):952-60. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2012.724754 Ireland AM, Wiklund I, Hsieh R, Dale P, O'Rourke E. Outcomes Research, United BioSource Corporation , Bethesda, MD , USA.

Objectives : Test-retest reliability of an asthma paper diary versus an electronic diary (e-diary) with an integrated peak flow meter was investigated. The equivalence of the two modes was also evaluated.

Methods: Prospective, randomized crossover study design in adolescents (12-17 years) and adults (&#8805;18 years). Key inclusion criteria were persistent asthma, Asthma Control Test (ACT) scores &#8805;16, use of inhaled corticosteroid with or without long-acting beta-agonist for &#8805;12 weeks, nocturnal awakenings <2 times in the past week, and activity limitations <1 per week. Participants were randomized to either paper then e-diary or e-diary then paper, to be completed for 14 days each.

Results: Forty-seven participants completed all study visits. Weekly percentage of symptom-free days (SFDs) and rescue-free days (RFDs) were calculated. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) of Week 1 mean SFD and RFD (test) and Week 2 mean SFD and RFD (retest), respectively, were estimated in three groups defined as stable: (i) minimal changes in asthma symptoms, as measured by the global patient reported symptom change question, (ii) less than 15% change (absolute value) in 1 second FEV(1) at adjacent study visits, and (iii) changes in ACT scores less than three points for each mode. SFD demonstrated acceptable ICC (&#8805;0.70) using all three definitions of asthma stability for both modes.

Conclusion : Acceptable reproducibility of the percentage of RFD (ICC = 0.78) was only observed for the e-diary using the FEV(1) stability criterion. The ICCs for SFD and RFD were acceptable, 0.84 and 0.70, respectively, suggesting better reliability for the e-diary.

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