A number of instruments have been developed to measure the quality of life in patients with various conditions of the shoulder. Older instruments appear to have been developed at a time when little information was available on the appropriate methodology for instrument development. Much progress has been made in this area, and currently an appropriate instrument exists for each of the main conditions of the shoulder. Investigators planning clinical trials should select modern instruments that have been developed with appropriate patient input for item generation and reduction, and established validity and reliability. Among the other factors discussed in this review, responsiveness of an instrument is an important consideration as it can serve to minimize the sample size for a proposed study. The shoulder instruments reviewed include the Rating Sheet for Bankart Repair (Rowe), ASES Shoulder Evaluation Form, UCLA Shoulder Score, The Constant Score, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH), the Shoulder Rating Questionnaire, the Simple Shoulder Test (SST), the Western Ontario Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder Index (WOOS), the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff Index (WORC), the Western Ontario Shoulder Instability Index (WOSI), Rotator Cuff Quality of Life (RC-QOL), and the Oxford Shoulder Scores (OSS).