The future

Newer methods of collecting QL data maybe more appealing to patients and may better ensure regular completion, reduce missing items, and eliminate transcription errors from paper to computer. For instance, patients could enter their answers into a personal computer (PC) at home or in the clinic, and hand-held instruments can be programmed to set off an alarm at specific times to remind patients to record their symptom severity. Currently, cost and availability of PCs maybe a restricting factor, but it is not too difficult to envisage a scenario in the not too distant future where every patient has their own mobile phone that connects to the Internet. The central trials office could then send a message to every patient on the trial asking them to type in, say, their severity of cough, and get an instant response.

These ideas are already being piloted and their introduction may make an enormous impact on the assessment of patients' QL.

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