Generic health status measure that was introduced in 1992 and has been translated into various languages and is used world-wide.
Designed to be applied to all health conditions and assess health concepts which represent basic human values and were relevant to a person’s functional status and well-being.
contains 36 questions covering eight domains:
1) Physical functioning
2) Role limitations due to physical health problems
3) Bodily pain
4) General health
6) Social functioning
7) Role limitations due to emotional problems
8) Mental health
The responses are based on a Likert scale. Both standard (4 week) and acute (1 week) recall versions are used. Version 2 of the SF-36 was released in 1996 and some modifications were made to the format, the wording of the questions and to the response options.
The SF-36 is the most widely used health survey and has been used in SCI. It has been used extensively to discriminate, evaluate and predict outcomes in various health conditions, but more work is required to study the validity of the questions and the proposed modifications to the questions for SCI patient population.
The questions related to walking and climbing stairs are seen to be insensitive to individuals with a complete SCI.
# of studies reporting psychometric properties: 11
MCID: not established in SCI, but for a sample of patients with osteoarthritis of the lower extremities (n=142, mean age: 65.1 yrs, 70.5% female, 61.5% had knee osteoarthritis, 35.2% used NSAIDS or analgesics):
MCID for worsening
MCID for improvement
Physical component summary
Reference: Angst et al. 2001. “Smallest detectable and minimal clinically important differences of rehabilitation intervention with their implications for required sample sizes using WOMAC and SF-36 quality of life measurement instruments in patients with osteoarthritis of the lower extremities” Arthritis Care & Research, 45(4), 384–391. SEM &MDC: SF-36 score SEM and MDC (calculated from data in Lin et al. 2007):
There is published data and norms available for some health conditions as well as for the general population (Canada and United States).
Higher scores indicate higher levels of health.
Further research is needed on using the SF-36 for individuals with SCI to understand how they are answering the questions to ensure the data is valid.
Normative data for the SCI population have not been reported at this time
Published data on the SCI population is available for comparison (see Interpretability section of the Study Details sheet).
Internal consistency ranges from moderate to high for total SF-36 (Cronbach’s a = 0.82) and subscales:
Physical Functioning (Cronbach’s a = 0.91-0.98)
Role Physical (Cronbach’s a = 0.94)
Bodily Pain (Cronbach’s a = 0.79)
General Health (Cronbach’s a = 0.79-0.82)
Vitality (Cronbach’s a = 0.76)
Social Functioning (Cronbach’s a = 0.72)
Role Emotional (Cronbach’s a = 0.89)
Mental Health (Cronbach’s a=0.78)
Inter-rater and intra-rater reliability ranges from moderate to high for the SF-36 subscales: (Inter-rater ICC, intra-rater ICC)
Physical Functioning (0.67, 0.71)
Role Physical (0.90, 0.89)
Bodily Pain (0.70, 0.87)
General Health (0.41, 0.87)
Vitality (0.86, 0.93)
Social Functioning (0.52, 0.93)
Role Emotional (0.98, 0.99)
Mental Health (0.57, 0.77)
(Forchheimer et al. 2004, King & Roberts 2002, Lin 2007, Luther et al. 2006, Van Leeuwen et al. 2012)
Correlation of the SF-36 mental summary is high with Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System items (Pearson’s r=-0.650 to -0.761), low with the Quality of WellBeing (Pearson’s r=0.116), and low with the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (Pearson’s r=0.262).
Correlation of the SF-36 physical summary is moderate with the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System items (Pearson’s r=-0.458 to -0.489), the Quality of WellBeing (Pearson’s r=0.417) and the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (Pearson’s r=-0.357)
The ability of the SF-36 to discriminate among subgroups with respect to age, education, marital status, employment, time since injury, level of injury, and self-care ability was tested using the Mann-Whitney U-test.
The domains of the SF-36 had significant discriminant validity between employment and self-care ability; the discriminant ability differed with other characteristics. Overall, the SF-36 domains significantly discriminated between subgroups in terms of 2-4 characteristics.
(Forchheimer et al. 2004, King & Roberts 2002, Lin 2007, Luther et al. 2006, Van Leeuwen et al. 2012, Andresen et al. 1999, Bonne-Lee et al. 2008, Miller et al. 2008, Raichle et al. 2006, Anton et al. 2006, Horner-Johnson et al. 2010)
Significantly lower scores for individuals with SCI than the nondisabled group were reported on the Physical Functioning, Bodily Pain and Role-Physical domains.
However, all Vitality subscale items showed significant positive differential functioning for people with SCI when controlling for total physical health scores.
(Lin 2007, Bonne-Lee et al. 2008, Horner-Johnson et al. 2010)
Floor effects and ceiling effects reported for the SF-36.
3 subscales (role physical, social functioning, role emotion) exhibited ceiling effects between 22.5 and 75.3%.
2 subscales (physical functioning and role physical) exhibited floor effects 24.2% and 36.3%, respectively.
(King & Roberts 2002, Van Leeuwen et al. 2012, Andresen et al. 1999, Lin 2007, Bonne-Lee et al. 2008)
Dr. Ben Mortenson, Brodie Sakakibara, John Zhu, Jeremy Mak, Risa Fox
Ataoğlu E, Tiftik T, Kara M, Tunç H, Ersöz M, Akkuş S. Effects of chronic pain on quality of life and depression in patients with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord. 2013;51(1):23-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22547044
Bonne-Lee B, King MT, Simpson JM, Haran MJ, Stockler MR, Marial O, Salkeld G. Validity, responsiveness, and minimal important difference for the SF-6D Health Utility Scale in a spinal cord injured population. Value in Health, 2008; 11(4): 680-688. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18194406
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Luther SL, Kromrey J, Powell-Cope G, Rosenberg D, Nelson A, Ahmed S, Quigley P. A pilot study to modify the SF-36V physical functioning scale for use with veterans with spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2006; 87: 1059-1066. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16876550
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Raichle KA, Osborne TL, Jensen MP, Cardenas D. The reliability and validity of pain interference measures in people with spinal cord injury. The Journal of Pain, 2006; 7(3): 179-186. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16516823
Silveira E, Taft C, Sundh V, Waern M, Palsson S, Steen B. Performance of the SF-36 health survey in screening for depressive and anxiety disorders in an elderly female Swedish population. Qual Life Res. 2005;14(5):1263-74. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16047502
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