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Measuring Health Status among the Poor in Bangladesh


A Bangla translation of the SF-36 was used to evaluate the self-reported health status of 1,004 villagers in 1999. Poor respondents were stratified according to their participation in a women-focused economic development program of a large non-governmental organization (BRAC), and were compared with non-poor respondents.

Key Findings

  • BRAC respondents reported marginally better health status than poor non-BRAC respondents; these differences were significant for general health perceptions and mental health (p<0.05).
  • Significant differences in SF-36 scores were not found between BRAC and non-poor households.
  • Age, gender, literacy, and poverty were important determinants of SF-36 scores; differences between poor BRAC and non-BRAC respondents were particularly notable in households that had an economic deficit in the prior year.


The authors note that an important limitation of the study is the potential issue of selectivity bias between poor BRAC and non-BRAC respondents, and the study was not longitudinal. Nevertheless, the authors conclude that the SF-36, when adapted to a non-Western culture, can be a useful tool for the assessment of health status in developing countries.

For more information, see Ahmed SM, et al. Measuring Perceived Health Outcomes in Non-western Culture: Does SF-36 Have a Place? J Health Popul Nutr 2002 Dec; 20(4); 334-342, or see www.icddrb.org.

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