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Visual Acuity Testing: Feedback Affects Neither Outcome nor Reproducibility, but Leaves Participants Happier.

By Michael Bach and Kerstin Schäfer


Assessment of visual acuity is a well standardized procedure at least for expert opinions and clinical trials. It is often recommended not giving patients feedback on the correctness of their responses. As this viewpoint has not been quantitatively examined so far, we quantitatively assessed possible effects of feedback on visual acuity testing. In 40 normal participants we presented Landolt Cs in 8 orientations using the automated Freiburg Acuity Test (FrACT, < Over a run comprising 24 trials, the acuity threshold was measured with an adaptive staircase procedure. In an ABCDDCBA scheme, trial-by-trial feedback was provided in 2 x 4 conditions: (A) no feedback, (B) acoustic signals indicating correctness, (C)visual indication of correct orientation, and (D) a combination of (B) and (C). After each run the participants judged comfort. Main outcome measures were absolute visual acuity (logMAR), its test-retest agreement (limits of agreement) and participants' comfort estimates on a 5-step symmetric Likert scale. Feedback influenced acuity outcome significantly (p = 0.02), but with a tiny effect size: 0.02 logMAR poorer acuity for (D) compared to (A), even weaker effects for (B) and (C). Test-retest agreement was high (limits of agreement: ± 1.0 lines) and did not depend on feedback (p>0.5). The comfort ranking clearly differed, by 2 steps on the Likert scale: the condition (A)-no feedback-was on average "slightly uncomfortable", the other three conditions were "slightly comfortable" (p<0.0001). Feedback affected neither reproducibility nor the acuity outcome to any relevant extent. The participants, however, reported markedly greater comfort with any kind of feedback. We conclude that systematic feedback (as implemented in FrACT) offers nothing but advantages for routine use

Topics: Medicine, R, Science, Q
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147803
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