Quality of Life Research

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 1065–1076 | Cite as

Conversion of standard retrospective patient-reported outcomes to momentary versions: cognitive interviewing reveals varying degrees of momentary compatibility

  • Victor Brun Boesen
  • Stine Birk Nissen
  • Mogens Groenvold
  • Jakob Bue Bjorner
  • Laszlo Hegedüs
  • Steen Joop Bonnema
  • Åse Krogh Rasmussen
  • Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen
  • Torquil Watt



The purpose of this study was to adapt different domains of an existing retrospective questionnaire to momentary versions, to use and assess cognitive interviewing for evaluating the new versions, and to compare momentary compatibility (i.e. an item’s potential to be validly converted to a momentary version) across different scales.


Initial momentary versions of retrospective patient-reported outcomes were produced by converting present perfect tense wording to present tense wording. Cognitive interviews were conducted iteratively with 21 patients to determine which reference period they actually employed, and to identify problems with new, revised versions. A think-aloud interview protocol was supplemented with non-specific concurrent and specific retrospective probing. The momentary compatibility of each item was evaluated by calculating the proportion of interviews wherein momentary reference periods were identified; problems were categorized according to cognitive aspects of survey methodology taxonomy. The efficiency of various cognitive interviewing techniques was determined by evaluating whether applied reference periods were identified by think-aloud alone or by supplementary probes.


The momentary compatibility varied from 5 to 100% across items. Cognitive interviews revealed potential problems of various severities in the majority of items. Think-aloud alone was sufficient at determining the applied reference period in one-third of the cases, and the efficiency of additional concurrent and retrospective probing was 50 and 94%, respectively.


Cognitive interviewing techniques proved useful for developing and evaluating momentary items. Researchers should be aware of the applied reference period and of emerging problems when evaluating adapted momentary items, since not all concepts are suitable. We recommend the proposed method in future adaptations of existing instruments.


Ecological momentary assessments Cognitive interviewing Patient-reported outcomes Thyroid diseases Quality-of-life measurement 



The authors would like to thank Bo Kehlet Watt (Kehlet IT) for designing and programming the smartphone app. LH is supported by an unrestricted grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.


This study was funded by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (grant 271-09-0143).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was performed in compliance with the Declarations of Helsinki. The study protocol was reviewed by the local Ethical Committee (reg. # H-A-2009-FSP23). According to Danish law, questionnaire studies do not require and thus cannot obtain approval by ethical committees.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor Brun Boesen
    • 1
  • Stine Birk Nissen
    • 2
  • Mogens Groenvold
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jakob Bue Bjorner
    • 2
  • Laszlo Hegedüs
    • 4
  • Steen Joop Bonnema
    • 4
  • Åse Krogh Rasmussen
    • 1
  • Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen
    • 1
  • Torquil Watt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EndocrinologyCopenhagen University Hospital RigshospitaletCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Palliative MedicineBispebjerg HospitalCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Endocrinology and MetabolismOdense University HospitalOdenseDenmark

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