Comparing a web-based and a paper version of a questionnaire. Is there a winner?

In the past we have talked about online games in public health, social media in public health and we do have a blog which I guess is the biggest proof that we are very interested in new technologies and how they can be used for public health purposes.  Since we are also interested in research methodology, we are very happy to publish an article on the agreement between a paper and a web-based version of a questionnaire in the International Journal of Public Health!

This article called “Agreement between web-based and paper versions of a socio-demographic questionnaire in the NutriNet-Sante´ study” is written by Anne-Claire Vergnaud and colleagues from the Unit of Research for Nutritional Epidemiology in France. Their aim was to compare a web-based questionnaire examining sociodemographic and economic factors with a paper version that was created for this purpose. This web-based questionnaire is used in the NutriNet Sante study, the first web-based prospective observational cohort study worldwide that aims to recruit 500,000 volunteers and to investigate the relationships between lifestyle and health. The authors found that the agreement between the two versions was high, with the additional benefit of reduced cost of the web-based version.

This well-written article provides a very good example on how to conduct research on this -relatively- new field, while its discussion section offers a good overview of the strengths and weaknesses of such methodology. We welcome your opinions on the article or generally on the subject. What do you think about the use of web-based tools in Public Health? What are the advantages and disadvantages in using them?

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