Electronic pain diary: A randomized crossover study

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Jan Gaertner - , University of Cologne (Author)
  • Frank Elsner - , RWTH Aachen University (Author)
  • Klaus Pollmann-Dahmen - , University of Cologne (Author)
  • Lukas Radbruch - , RWTH Aachen University (Author)
  • Rainer Sabatowski - , University of Cologne (Author)


Electronic pain diaries and palm-top computers have become increasingly important in clinical research and practice. In a randomized crossover trial, 24 patients suffering from chronic cancer and non-cancer pain completed both the electronic and the paper version of a pain diary based on the Minimal Documentation System (MIDOS) for pain and symptom assessment. This includes daily assessment of pain on an 11-point numeric rating scale and weekly documentation of a short quality-of-life questionnaire. Of 52 patients seen during the baseline phase of this study, 28 could be enrolled and only 24 patients completed both diary versions. The other patients were either physically or intellectually unable to use a palm-top computer or unwilling to participate in this study. After a total of four weeks, patient satisfaction was remarkably higher for the electronic palm-top version, even though a high number of patients were lacking experience in the use of computers. Obvious differences were observed between the versions. There were higher numbers of missing values in the electronic data, and patients tended to retrospectively fabricate information in the paper version. No significant difference between the electronic and paper diary could be found assessing the documented pain and symptom intensity. The electronic diary was used more frequently and patients said its use supported a more regular pharmacotherapy. We conclude that the use of electronic pain diaries is a valid and feasible method for documenting patients' pain perception, though some patients may not be able to operate such a diary version. Electronic palm-top pain diaries provide a high degree of patient satisfaction and can ease data collection for clinical research and practice.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-267
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of pain and symptom management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004
Externally publishedYes

External IDs

PubMed 15336338


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Electronic pain diary, MIDOS, palm-top computers