Quality of Life Projects

Quality of LifeAssessing health-related quality of life in early OA: Development and application of a web-based computerized adaptive measurement system

Tooling up for early osteoarthritis:  Measuring what matters – participation

Grouping Patients with Mild to Severe OA for Research Studies based on Physical Function

Early Osteoarthritis (OA) and its impact on quality of life

Tooling Up for Early Osteoarthritis: evaluating pain and OA management strategies (POAMS)


Using computerized systems to evaluate the impact of joint problems on quality of life


This research will contribute to the development of a computerized system to obtain information from patients about the impact of joint problems on health outcomes (including daily activities, walking ability, handling objects, pain or discomfort, and emotional wellbeing) that are relevant to their quality of life. Computerized assessment systems have great potential to improve the effectiveness of health care services by specifically addressing the needs of the individual. The resulting information can be presented as individualized reports to supplement clinical data with information about specific health outcomes that are relevant to people with arthritis. These reports can be used as a resource for evaluating treatment decisions and as a tool to facilitate communication between health care consumers and health care professionals about important health-related concerns as experienced by the individual.

Introduction and Background
The study builds on the work by Dr. Kopec and colleagues at the ARC who developed a computerized questionnaire for obtaining information about the types of challenges that people with joint problems might encountered in their daily lives (http://net.arthritisresearch.ca/oapublic/about/projects/proj03.htm). Although the advantages of such computerized health outcomes assessment systems are widely recognized, further research is needed to evaluate the extent to which these systems provide accurate and trustworthy information that represents patients’ experiences in a consistent and comparable manner. For example, it is important to ensure that the CAT results are not biased with respect to any demographic differences (age, gender, culture) or other differences that may influence how people interpret the meaning of the items and the available response options. The current project seeks to develop and use innovative methodologies for examining the trustworthiness of the information obtained from a computerized health outcomes assessment system for people with joint problems.


Participant Recruitment

Data from the following three surveys that have already been completed will be used: (a) a cross-sectional survey of older adults with joint problems in Canada who completed a questionnaire that was used for the development of the computerized assessment system, (b) a longitudinal survey of people registered with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) who completed the online computerized assessment system at three points in time 6 to 8 months apart, and (c) a survey of people randomly selected from the BC osteoarthritis registry who completed a paper-based adaptation of the assessment system.



Innovative statistical methods will be used to examine whether the information obtained from the computer-based assessment system (and the paper-based adaptation) is trustworthy irrespective of any demographic or health-related differences in the three samples, and whether the system can be used to assess relevant changes in the various health outcomes at different points in time.

Time Frame and Results

Statistical analyses and dissemination of results (May 2008 - August 2009)

Relevance to people living with arthritis

Computerized systems for assessing self-reported health outcomes have great potential to improve the effectiveness of health care services. The results of these assessments can be presented as a graphic report documenting changes in an individual’s health outcomes, and can thereby provide more information about specific health outcomes that are relevant to people with arthritis. These summary reports can be used as a tool to facilitate decision-making and communication between health care consumers and health care professionals about the impact of arthritis. As stated by one individual with arthritis, “I am the real manager of this disease so I research information and discuss treatments with my doctor” (Iaquinta & Larrabee, 2004). However, it is very important that the individual’s experiences pertaining to the impact of arthritis in various areas of life are accurately represented. The current study is designed to ensure that the individual’s experiences with respect to several health outcomes relevant to arthritis are indeed reported in the most accurate, informative, and efficient manner.
Aquinta, M.L. and J.H. Larrabee, Phenomenological lived experience of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 2004. 19(3): p. 280-9.

Consumer Involvement

• We welcome the involvement of consumer collaborators to provide feedback about the computerized assessment system. Ideas for further research to examine the perspectives of patients with respect to the development of a computerized assessment system will be explored.


Funding Agency

This study is funded by the OA NET grant, which is funded by the CIHR and the Canadian Arthritis Network.
Additional post-doctoral fellowship funds are provided by:
o Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
o Canadian Arthritis Network
o Arthritis Research Centre of Canada


• The results of this study will be presented at national or international conferences (e.g., the International Society of Quality of Life Research) and will be published in health journals (including at least one open-access journal that is freely available to the public).
• Kopec, J. A., Sayre, E. C., Davis, A. M., Badley, E. M., Abrahamowicz, M., Sherlock, L., et al. (2006). Assessment of health-related quality of life in arthritis: Conceptualization and development of five item banks using item response theory. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 4, 33.
Abstract #1598. Presented at the 14h Annual Meeting of the International Society for Quality of Life Research, Toronto, October, 2007.


Web links

. Assessing health-related quality of life in early OA

. Early Osteoarthritis (OA) and its impact on quality of life

. Investigator's website: www.ricksawatzky.com

Project Team Members and Contact Person

Principal Investigator:
• Rick Sawatzky, PhD, RN, Trinity Western University, ARC post-doctoral fellow
Other Investigators:
• Jacek A. Kopec MD, PhD, Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, Supervisor

Key Words

Joint problems, quality of life, computer adaptive test.

  Hosted by the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada
Copyright © 2004 - 2009 New Emerging Teams