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The SF Questionnaires

SF-36® Health Survey
The SF-36 is a multipurpose, 36-item survey that measures eight domains of health: physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health, bodily pain, general health perceptions, vitality, social functioning, role limitations due to emotional problems, and mental health. It yields scale scores for each of these eight health domains, and two summary measures of physical and mental health: the Physical Component Summary (PCS) and Mental Component Summary (MCS). A preference-based (utility) measure for the SF-36, the SF-6D, also has been developed. Version 1.0 of the SF-36 was initially published in developmental form in 1988 and final form in 1990. In 1996 we began evaluations of an improved Version 2.0 of the SF-36 (SF-36v2™) with simpler item wording, increased range and precision for the two role functioning scales, and an easier-to-use format Versions 1.0 and 2.0 of the SF-36 are available for two recall periods: standard (4-week recall) and acute (1-week recall).

The SF-36 is a generic measure, as opposed to one that targets a specific age, disease, or treatment group. Thus, it has been useful in assessing the health of general and specific populations, comparing the relative burden of diseases, differentiating the health benefits produced by a wide range of treatments, and screening individual patients. The widespread applicability of the SF-36 is apparent in the more than 5,000 publications that have used this measure.

For more information about the SF-36, click here

To obtain more information about the user registration and licensing programs for the SF-36 and SF-36v2, click here.

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SF-12® Health Survey
The SF-12 contains 12 items from the SF-36 Health Survey. It was originally developed in 1994 as a shorter alternative to the SF-36, for studies in which a 36-item form was too long. The SF-12 contains one or two items that measure each of the eight concepts included in the SF-36. Like the SF-36, the SF-12 is available in standard (4-week recall) and acute (1-week recall) formats. Version 1.0 of the SF-12 was constructed to reproduce the SF-36 physical and mental health summary measures with at least 90% accuracy and allows for calculation of the PCS and MCS summary scores. An updated Version 2.0 of the SF-12 (SF-12v2™) now allows for calculation of an eight-scale profile in addition to the two summary scores. As a brief, reliable measure of overall health status, the SF-12 has often been used in large population health surveys. However, due to its brevity, the SF-12 also is frequently embedded in longer, condition-specific surveys that are used in clinical trials and other clinical studies.

For more information about the SF-12, click here.

To obtain more information about the user registration and licensing programs for the SF-12 and SF-12v2, click here.

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SF-8™ Health Survey
The SF-8 is the shortest of the SF questionnaires, containing one item for each of the eight concepts measured by the SF-36. Each SF-8 item covers a wide range of health, for example, ranging from no limitations in functioning to complete limitations. The SF-8 is available in three formats: standard (4-week) recall, acute (1-week) recall, and 24-hour recall. Because the SF-8 assesses each of the eight health domains with a single item, it works best in very large population surveys or other studies involving large samples and group-level comparisons. Scores produced by the SF-8 can be compared directly to those obtained with the other SF health surveys. While the SF-8 only has one item in common with the SF-36, the content is very similar across all SF surveys, and measures of corresponding concepts correlate highly across all forms.

For more information about the SF-8, click here.

To obtain more information about the user registration and licensing programs for the SF-8, click here.

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Considerations in Selecting Which SF Health Survey to Use

A number of factors should be considered when deciding which SF Health Survey to use for a particular application. The decision hinges in large part on making a tradeoff between respondent burden and score precision. These and other considerations (such as whether to switch forms midway during a longitudinal study and when to consider using computerized adaptive testing) are addressed by Dr. Ware here.

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