Interviewer versus self-administered health-related quality of life questionnaires - Does it matter?

Milo A. Puhan, Alka Ahuja, Mark L. Van Natta, Lori E. Ackatz, Curtis Meinert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patient-reported outcomes are measured in many epidemiologic studies using self- or interviewer-administered questionnaires. While in some studies differences between these administration formats were observed, other studies did not show statistically significant differences important to patients. Since the evidence about the effect of administration format is inconsistent and mainly available from cross-sectional studies our aim was to assess the effects of different administration formats on repeated measurements of patient-reported outcomes in participants with AIDS enrolled in the Longitudinal Study of Ocular Complications of AIDS.Methods: We included participants enrolled in the Longitudinal Study of Ocular Complications in AIDS (LSOCA) who completed the Medical Outcome Study [MOS] -HIV questionnaire, the EuroQol, the Feeling Thermometer and the Visual Function Questionnaire (VFQ) 25 every six months thereafter using self- or interviewer-administration. A large print questionnaire was available for participants with visual impairment. Considering all measurements over time and adjusting for patient and study site characteristics we used linear models to compare HRQL scores (all scores from 0-100) between administration formats. We defined adjusted differences of ≥0.2 standard deviations [SD]) to be quantitatively meaningful.Results: We included 2,261 participants (80.6% males) with a median of 43.1 years of age at enrolment who provided data on 23,420 study visits. The self-administered MOS-HIV, Feeling Thermometer and EuroQol were used in 70% of all visits and the VFQ-25 in 80%. For eight domains of the MOS-HIV differences between the interviewer- and self- administered format were < 0.1 SD. Differences in scores were highest for the social and role function domains but the adjusted differences were still < 0.2 SD. There was no quantitatively meaningful difference between administration formats for EuroQol, Feeling Thermometer and VFQ-25 domain scores. For ocular pain (VFQ-25), we found a statistically significant difference of 3.5 (95% CI 0.2, 6.8), which did, however, not exceed 0.2 SD. For all instruments scores were similar for the large and standard print formats with all adjusted differences < 0.2 SD.Conclusions: Our large study provides evidence that administration formats do not have a meaningful effect on repeated measurements of patient-reported outcomes. As a consequence, longitudinal studies may not need to consider the effect of different administration formats in their analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
StatePublished - May 10 2011


  • AID Squality of life
  • Administration
  • Questionnaire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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