Canadian normative data for the SF-36 health survey. Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study Research Group

CMAJ. 2000 Aug 8;163(3):265-71.


Background: The Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form (SF-36) is a widely used measure of health-related quality of life. Normative data are the key to determining whether a group or an individual scores above or below the average for their country, age or sex. Published norms for the SF-36 exist for other countries but have not been previously published for Canada.

Methods: The Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study is a prospective cohort study involving 9423 randomly selected Canadian men and women aged 25 years or more living in the community. The sample was drawn within a 50-km radius of 9 Canadian cities, and the information collected included the SF-36 as a measure of health-related quality of life. This provided a unique opportunity to develop age- and sex-adjusted normative data for the Canadian population.

Results: Canadian men scored substantially higher than women on all 8 domains and the 2 summary component scales of the SF-36. Canadians scored higher than their US counterparts on all SF-36 domains and both summary component scales and scored higher than their UK counterparts on 4 domains, although many of the differences are not large.

Interpretation: The differences in the SF-36 scores between age groups, sexes and countries confirm that these Canadian norms are necessary for comparative purposes. The data will be useful for assessing the health status of the general population and of patient populations, and the effect of interventions on health-related quality of life.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Health