Gquest: Modeling patient questionnaires and administering them through a mobile platform application

G. Lanzola, M. G. Ginardi, A. Mazzanti, S. Quaglini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The use of surveys is becoming popular in the health care industry for acquiring information useful to the accomplishment of several studies. Besides their exploitation on a large scale for conducting epidemiological studies, surveys are being increasingly carried out on a narrower perspective through the administration of questionnaires aimed at assessing the quality of life perceived by patients or their clinical status during mid- or long-term treatments. This is useful for managing resources or optimizing and individualizing treatments. Objectives: This paper describes Gquest, a platform for modeling, generating and administering questionnaires through mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Gquest was motivated by the need of administering questionnaires during home treatments, albeit its applicability is rather general. The main requirement was to have a very simple, clean and easy to use platform able to support (a) physicians in the design and delivery of questionnaires and (b) outpatients in sending self-recorded outcomes to the clinical staff. Methods: Gquest has two basic components. The first one is a model devised for representing questionnaires which is extremely flexible. It allows the generation of questions and answers of different types, supports adaptivity in the dialog with the user and enforces simple consistency rules for checking his input. The second component is an application able to run instances of those questionnaires. It downloads questionnaires over the air in terms of XML files from a server and stores them locally into the mobile repository. Questionnaires become then available to the user, who in our case is a patient or one of his relatives. The user can select which one to fill-in, according to his needs and/or the specific treatment protocol. The selected questionnaire may be filled-in all at once or be completed in subsequent steps over time since any input provided is persisted on a local database. Finally, when a questionnaire is closed all the answers are transparently synchronized to a server for further evaluation or statistical purposes. Results: The platform has been exploited and tested in two medical domains where questionnaires have very different purposes; a quality of life pilot survey involving patients with atrial fibrillation within the EU-funded project MobiGuide, and an investigation of the users' needs during the requirements elicitation phase of a telemedicine project for the safe discharge of fragile patients. Conclusions: Gquest proved to be a suitable tool for dealing with a wide variety of question types and has been positively accepted by the patients enrolled in the pilot study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-291
Number of pages15
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Computer adaptive testing
  • Mobile health
  • Quality of life surveys
  • Questionnaires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software
  • Health Informatics


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