Measuring health status: what are the necessary measurement properties?

J Clin Epidemiol. 1992 Dec;45(12):1341-5. doi: 10.1016/0895-4356(92)90194-r.


The different measurement properties necessary for instruments whose goal is to detect differences between subjects at a single point in time (discriminative instruments) and those whose goal is to detect longitudinal change within subjects (evaluative instruments) is becoming increasingly recognized. Up to now, requirements for evaluative instruments have been presented as reproducibility, validity, and responsiveness (i.e. the ability to detect change over time). An alternative conceptualization would characterize any instrument as requiring two crucial measurement properties. One is validity, the other a high ratio of signal to noise. For discriminative instruments, the signal to noise ratio can be summarized in a reliability coefficient; for evaluative instruments, in a responsiveness index or coefficient. This formulation can simplify and clarify the understanding and teaching of issues in health status measurement.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results