A comparison of tablet computer and paper-based questionnaires in healthy aging research

Jason Fanning, Edward McAuley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Digital questionnaire delivery offers many advantages to investigators and participants alike; however, evidence supporting digital questionnaire delivery via touchscreen device in the older adult population is lacking. Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the use of tablet computer-delivered and printed questionnaires as vehicles for the collection of psychosocial data from older adults to determine whether this digital platform would be readily adopted by the sample, and to identify whether tablet delivery influences the content of data received. Methods: The participants completed three questionnaires using both delivery methods, followed by a brief evaluation. Results: A nonparametric one-sample binomial test indicated a significantly greater proportion of individuals preferred the tablet-delivered questionnaires (z=4.96, SE 3.428, P<.001). Paired sample t tests and Wilcoxon sign-rank tests indicated that measures collected by each method were not significantly different (all P≥.273). Ease of use of the tablet interface and anxiety while completing the digital questionnaires were significantly correlated with preferences, (rs=.665, P<.001 and rs=.552, P<.001, respectively). Participants most frequently reported that the tablet delivery increased speed of use and improved data entry, although navigation was perceived as being more difficult. By comparison, participants felt that the paper packet was easier to read and navigate, but was slow and cumbersome, and they disliked the lack of dynamic features. Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that questionnaires delivered to older adults using contemporary tablet computers may be acceptable and do not substantively influence the content of the collected data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere38
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014


  • Behavioral psychology
  • Healthy aging
  • Questionnaire
  • Tablet computer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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