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Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) can be self-administered, interviewer-administered or telephone-administered. Some instruments have been developed for administration by a variety of methods. Self-administration can take the form of paper-based or computerised questionnaires. Both these forms of self-administration may be undertaken within the health care setting or in the respondent's home using the postal service or internet. Self-administration by means of a postal questionnaire is the most common form of administration.

Interviewer- and telephone-administered questionnaires usually produce higher response rates and lower levels of missing data than self-administered postal questionnaires [1]. However, self-administered questionnaires have a much lower cost than these two methods, both of which require trained interviewers. Supervised self-administration makes less demands on staff who are present to facilitate the administration process, answer any questions, and check for missing data.

In some situations, for instance in the presence of cognitive impairment or intensive symptoms, individuals may be unable to provide self-assessments of their health. In such cases one might look to caregivers or health care providers to give their assessment of the individual's health. However, caution should be exercised when relying on proxy-ratings since evidence suggests that there can be considerable discrepancies between proxy and self-ratings, particularly when the aspect of health is more difficult to observe, for instance psychological well-being [2].


  1. McColl E, Jacoby A, Thomas L, Soutter J, Bamford C, Steen N, Thomas R, Harvey E, Garratt A, Bond J. Design and use of questionnaires: a review of best practice applicable to surveys of health service staff and patients. Health Technology Assessment 2001;5(31).
  2. Sprangers M, Aaronson N. The role of health care providers and significant others in evaluating the quality of life of patients with chronic diseases: a review. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 1992;45:743-60.

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