Can Geriatric Psychiatry Patients Complete Symptoms Self-Reports Using Tablets? A Randomized Study


  • Ghizlane Moussaoui Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital, McGill University
  • Ching Yu McGill University
  • Vincent Laliberté McGill University
  • Dominique Elie McGill University
  • Artin A. Mahdanian McGill University
  • Benjamin Dawson McGill University
  • Marilyn Segal McGill University
  • Karl J. Looper McGill University
  • Rej Soham McGill University



iPad, tablet computers, late-life mental illness, symptom monitoring, technology



With our aging population and limited number of geriatric psychiatrists, innovations must be made in order to meet the growing demands for geriatric psychiatry services. Emerging technologies could greatly improve access to care and systematic data collection.


This randomized study compared completion rates and time to completion (primary outcomes) when using iPad technology vs. traditional paper forms to complete self-report psychiatric symptoms. Geriatric psychiatry outpatients (n = 72) and adult psychiatry inpatients (n = 50) were recruited to complete the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI-53), the Activities of Daily Living (ADL), and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) questionnaires.


Geriatric psychiatry outpatients completed the iPad and paper questionnaires at similar rates (91.7% vs. 97.2%, Fisher’s Exact p = .61). In two-way ANOVA, including patients aged ≥ 60 (n = 85), outpatient status (F(1,81) = 4.48, p = .037) and iPad format (F (1,81) = 8.96, p = .04) were associated with a shorter time to completion. The effect of questionnaire formats was especially prominent in the inpatient group on time to completion.


Older adults with mental illness demonstrate a similar ability to complete self-report questionnaires whether iPads or paper forms. iPad questionnaires may even require less time to complete in geriatric psychiatry inpatients. Patients also found iPad questionnaires to be easy to use and read. Tablets could potentially be used for psychiatric symptom assessment for clinical, research, and population health purposes.


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How to Cite

Moussaoui G, Yu C, Laliberté V, Elie D, Mahdanian AA, Dawson B, Segal M, Looper KJ, Soham R. Can Geriatric Psychiatry Patients Complete Symptoms Self-Reports Using Tablets? A Randomized Study. Can Geriatr J [Internet]. 2017 Sep. 29 [cited 2023 Nov. 29];20(3):112-9. Available from:



Original Research