How to score version 2 of the SF-36 health survey (Lincoln, RI: QualityMetric Incorporated)

Author(s): Ware JE, Jr., Kosinski M, Dewey J


The SF-36 (Medical Outcomes Trust, Boston, MA) is a multipurpose, short-form health survey with only 36 questions. It yields an eight-scale profile of scores as well as physical and mental health summary measures. It is a generic measure, as opposed to one that targets a specific age, disease, or treatment group. Accordingly, the SF-36 has been useful in comparing general and specific populations, comparing the relative burden of diseases, differentiating the health benefits produced by a wide range of different treatments, and screening individual patients.47 This report summarizes the steps in the construction of the SF-36; how it led to the development of an even shorter (one-page, 2-minute) survey form, the SF-12; the improvements reflected in version 2.0 of the SF-36, psychometric studies of assumptions underlying scale construction and scoring, how they have been translated in more than 40 countries as part of the International Quality of Life Assessment (IQOLA) project, and studies of reliability and validity.

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