A comparison of self-reported puberty using the Pubertal Development Scale and the Sexual Maturation Scale in a school-based epidemiologic survey

J Adolesc. 2006 Oct;29(5):709-20. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.10.001. Epub 2005 Dec 1.


Purpose: To examine concordance between two self-reported measures of puberty: Sexual Maturation Scale (SMS) and Pubertal Development Scale (PDS) and their acceptability to adolescents.

Methods: Participants of a school-based study in grades 5, 7 and 9 were classified into one of 5 pubertal stages using each method.

Results: 2864 students (age 9-16 years) participated. Agreement was moderate for males (kappa 0.42, 95% CI 0.39, 0.45) and females (kappa 0.57, 95% CI 0.53, 0.61). Concordance within one stage was excellent (females 97%, males 89%), with discrepancies due to females being classified one stage later on the PDS (26%) and males one stage earlier (32%). There were more missing data for the SMS (13%) than the PDS (4%).

Conclusions: Given the level of concordance and difficulties of using the drawings in a school-based survey, we would recommend the PDS as an alternative to assess pubertal status in epidemiological studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physiology / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puberty*
  • Schools
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Washington / epidemiology