Aims: To identify generic measures of health-related quality of life (HRQL) for children and adolescents developed for use within general populations. Instruments are evaluated on the basis of evidence relating to their reliability and validity.
Methods: Systematic literature searches were used to identify instruments, which were then assessed against predefined criteria. Information relating to instrument content, population, reliability and validity was extracted from published papers.
Results: Sixteen instruments were identified that had been evaluated among a general population of children or adolescents. Four instruments had reported data on both internal consistency and test-retest reliability. All except two instruments had undergone some degree of construct validation.
Conclusions: The evidence suggests that the Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ) has been the most extensively evaluated for younger populations but is available as a parent-completed measure only. The new version of the Child Health and Illness Profile (CHIP-CE) is particularly promising and has parallel child- and parent-completed versions for young ages. The weight of evidence suggests that versions of these two instruments are suitable for older children. The Warwick Child Health and Morbidity Profile could be used where information on morbidity and health service contacts is required. Once basic psychometric criteria are fulfilled, instruments should be chosen by assessing their content and design in the light of the prospective application.