Administer and collect medical questionnaires with Google documents: a simple, safe, and free system
Aim: Questionnaires are an invaluable resource for clinical trials. They serve to estimate disease burden and clinical parameters associated with a particular study. However, current researchers are tackling budget constraints, loss of funding opportunities, and rise of research associated fees. We aimed at exploring alternative avenues taking advantage of the free Google docs software for questionnaire administration. This presents an opportunity to reduce costs while simultaneously increasing efficiency and data fidelity. Material and Methods: Google documents were used as a platform to create online questionnaires that were automatically hosted via a unique URL. Password protected access to the URL link and a unique study ID gave patients around the clock access from anywhere in the world. Unique study ID ensured confidentially of all self-reported data. Patient responses were secured using a “Cloud” database where the data was automatically sorted, scaled and scored by custom Excel formulas. Researchers downloaded real-time questionnaire responses in multiple formats (e.g. excel) which was then analyzed with a statistical software of choice. Results: This simple workflow provided instant questionnaire scores that eliminated the use for paper-based responses and subsequent manual entry of data. Ease of access to online questionnaires provided convenience to patients leading to better response rates and increase in data fidelity. The system also allowed for real time monitoring of patient’s progress on completing questionnaires. Online questionnaires had 100% completion rate compared to paper-based questionnaires. Conclusions: Google docs can serve as an efficient and free platform to administer questionnaires to a clinical population without sacrificing quality, security, and fidelity of data.