Can Older Patients use an Electronic Tablet to Complete a Cancer Specific Geriatric Assessment? Results of a Pilot Study. — ASN Events

Can Older Patients use an Electronic Tablet to Complete a Cancer Specific Geriatric Assessment? Results of a Pilot Study. (#314)

Stephanie Bond 1 , Bianca Devitt 2 3 , heather lane 1 2 , Sue-Anne McLachlan 1 2 , Jennifer Philip 1 2
  1. St Vincent's Hosptial, Fitzroy, Vic, Australia
  2. Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. St Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy, Vic, Australia


Electronic questionnaires are gaining acceptance.  A self-administered tablet-based version of two screening geriatric questionnaires was piloted in people > 70 to determine feasibility.


A convenience sample of ten consecutive patients aged ­>70 years was recruited from St Vincent’s Hospital outpatients. Participants, with the assistance of accompanying friends/family members, were asked to complete both the Cancer Specific Geriatric Assessment (CSGA) and Vulnerable Elders Survey 13 (VES-13) using an electronic tablet or paper version if unable to operate the tablet. Electronic questionnaires were designed in accordance with literature on computer use in older adults. Participants were provided with assistance as necessary. Feasibility was set at 80% of participants completing the electronic questionnaire independently. Participants were timed on questionnaire completion, observed while answering the questionnaire, and questioned on the suitability and ease of use of both the tablet and questionnaire.


Fifteen patients were approached, ten agreed to participate. Two patients were non-English speaking and 2 had English as a secondary language.  The median age was 77 (range 70-89). Seven participants completed the surveys electronically. Median time to complete the CSGA was 13 minutes (range 6-27) and the VES-13 was 3 minutes (range 2-4). No participants were able to use the tablet independently, with four requiring significant assistance. Investigators noted participants had difficulty operating the tablet and consequently gave conflicting responses for similar questions on the CSGA and the VES-13. Due to this discrepancy, the VES-13 identified 3 patients as vulnerable/frail and the CSGA categorised five patients as vulnerable/frail. Participants however found the tablet as easy to use and reported no clear preference for either screening tool.


Contrary to published literature, a self-administered tablet- based CGA was not feasible in our population. This study highlights the need to ensure questionnaires remain valid when used with older people in electronic formats.