I have a requirement where users are asking questions to patients in a clinical setting. The answers can be yes or no, or possibly a third option not applicable.

There are a series of such questions, and many people will be re-entering yes-no responses from a patient questionnaire, so I want to be careful to preserve the normal affordances with a yes or no question. Yet I need to ensure the not applicable option is there.

My Ideas


My first thought was to have some kind of three-place slider. enter image description here

But "Not Applicable" isn't conceptually between yes and no in any respect, so that's likely to produce some mistakes.


Radios might be the "right" control for such an instance, but I want to preserve the obviousness of yes-no, so maybe the N/A option could be styled differently, and would disable the radios?

Of course, if we went ahead with this option, it'd need some design work. (The N/A options are too pronounced here).

enter image description here

  • What is the difference between No and N/A? If N/A is selected it means it is one of the two Yes or No but it is not relevant?
    – Alvaro
    Mar 29, 2017 at 17:48
  • Correct. For the question "Does this patient have a history of [condition]? Responses might mean "yes, they do", "no, they don't" or "we couldn't find out"
    – cloudworks
    Mar 29, 2017 at 17:52
  • @Alvaro Or "If the patient was tested for Lurgi, was it present?". Here, "N/A" would mean they've not been tested (but might have the Lurgi), whereas "No" means they definitely don't have the Lurgi.
    – TripeHound
    Mar 30, 2017 at 5:50
  • I've kind of simplified the business case for the "Not Applicable" option to make the question more succinct. We have definitely made the case for simplifying the question, but alas, that's business.
    – cloudworks
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


Could you present the N/A option in the same input style but visually offset or slightly backgrounded from the foreground options.

For example enter image description here

  • interesting approach. Will have to think about how it fits into the existing design, but obviously using the same radio control is preferred.
    – cloudworks
    Mar 29, 2017 at 18:40

To me, "Not applicable" and "I don't know" are quite different things. It would be more comfortable to me if the options were adapted to each question:

enter image description here

  • I like the idea of making it a more direct answer to the question, but my concern is that since nobody reads anything, the yes-now dichotomy will get lost in the "other stuff" to the right of the two key responses.
    – cloudworks
    Apr 1, 2017 at 19:32
  • If it is because the third "Other stuff" column is physically bigger, just make it less emphasizes as suggested by the other answer. And regardless, I think that is a far less confusing than the user being forced to pick an option which is technically wrong (again, "not known" and "not applicable" means different things) Apr 2, 2017 at 19:48

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