Case Study: Evaluation of patient questionnaires
at the German Pain Association
The German Pain Association is the largest German society for diagnostics and therapy of chronic pain patients. It is focued on the treatment of and care for patients with chronic pains. One of the instruments used for this purpose is the German Pain Questionnaire which is the de facto standard for patient surveys. The questionnaire is an 16 page, A5-sized booklet containing more than 300 items and over 1000 check boxes.
Because of its size and the complexity of the scores calculated from the data items the manual evaluation of the questionnaire is tiresome and error-prone. In the past, the surgery personnel had to help themselves with special templates and could still collect only a small portion of the raised data. In order to create a progression documentation over a longer period of time multiple books had to be evaluated in this tiresome way and the data had to be entered into diagrams.
In 2002, OCR Systeme was contracted by the DGS with the creation of a system for automatic processing of the pain questionnaires and the similar pain diaries. The core components of this new system (“PainSoft”) are a document scanner (Fujitsu fi-7160) and our software FormPro, completed with an add-on module for automatic distinguation of the different book types and their pages. The books have been re-printed with a perforated margin which can easily be removed before scanning. A serial number at the bottom of each page ensures that all pages of a book will be scanned completely and will be saved as one record. The assignment of a scanned book to the correct patient can be made by the patient’s number on the cover page.
The data extracted by FormPro during scanning will be stored in an MS Access database. For evaluating the data and calculating the scores that are important for the doctor a separate application has been developed. This application accesses the database and displays the progression data as a table or diagram. Additionally, the program can display the corresponding scanned page from its archive whenever the user clicks on a data item. This way, the books do not have to be archived over many years as before.