The Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey measures overall health, as opposed to one that targets a specific disease or area of the body. Therefore, it’s often paired with a more disease-specific PRO.

Developed by RAND in 1992, the SF-36 is a 36-question survey derived from the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS), a multi-year study to explain variations in patient outcomes. A second version was developed in 1996 (SF-36v2) to correct deficiencies identified in the original version. For example, six-level response scales were reduced to five-level response scales to improve the two role functioning scales.

As the literature on PROsetta Stone points out, the survey relies upon patient self-reporting and has eight sections: Physical functioning (10), role limitations due to physical health (4), role limitations due to emotional problems (3), energy/fatigue (4), emotional well-being (5), social functioning (2), pain (2), and general health (5). Each scale is transformed into a 0-100 scale on the assumption that each scale carries equal weight. The lower the score, the more disability.

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Strengths

The SF-36 is a widely used and accepted general health assessment tool that has proven to be useful in differentiating the health benefits produced by a wide range of different treatments.  Many improvements were made to the SF-36v2 to shorten and simplify the wording and make it more familiar. It also allowed for cultural adaptations widely used in the U.S.

Also, a shorter version, the SF-12 and SF-8 are also available. The SF-12 is most likely to prove to be a satisfactory alternative to the SF-36 when samples are large and the objective is to monitor overall physical and mental health outcomes. The SF-12 is also a widely used and accepted general health assessment tool.

 

Weaknesses

Since the SF-36 is a general health assessment, it frequently needs to be paired with a more specific PRO tool which can make the overall assessment process long. It also has a low response rate in the >65 population. When it comes to generating actual results, the scoring method is rather complicated to calculate.

 

Licensing

This tool is that it requires a license to use.

 

About CODE Technology

CODE Technology is a Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO) vendor, ready to take PRO collection off your hands forever. At CODE we handle all data collection as a service, 100% outside of the office, you won’t even know we’re there. CODE offers robust reporting, benchmarking, and has a dedicated support team – not robots – to help you along the way. We’ll have you up and running in 30 days with zero hardware investment, zero manual data entry, and with zero disruption to your office. Click here to learn more about how CODE works.