The SF-36 as a health status measure for epilepsy: a psychometric assessment

Qual Life Res. 1999 Jun;8(4):351-64. doi: 10.1023/a:1008902728574.


A considerable literature is now available on the applications and psychometric properties of the MOS SF-36 Health Survey. In epilepsy, the SF-36 has been used as a health status measure in its own right and as the stem for two condition-specific measures. This paper replicates for epilepsy previous work to support use of the SF-36 across a range of clinical conditions. Data were obtained from a European-wide descriptive study of quality of life of adults with epilepsy; analysis of responses on the SF-36 is based on 4,929 subjects in eight countries. Missing value rates for all SF-36 items were low; percentages for whom complete information available for subscales ranged from 95.7% to 98.6%. All subscales passed tests for item-internal consistency and item-discriminant validity. Reliability coefficients exceeded the standard recommended for group comparisons across all subscales. Floor effects were negligible for all but the two role disability subscales; there were substantial ceiling effects for five of the SF-36 subscales. We conclude that the SF-36 is a valid and reliable health status measure for descriptive studies of people with epilepsy, but ceiling effects may limit its usefulness as an outcome measure in the assessment of new treatments.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results