Assessing measurement properties of two single-item general health measures

Qual Life Res. 2006 Mar;15(2):191-201. doi: 10.1007/s11136-005-0887-2.


Background: Multi-item health status measures can be lengthy, expensive, and burdensome to collect. Single-item measures may be an alternative. We compared measurement properties of two single-item, general self-rated health (GSRH) questions to assess how well they captured information in a validated, multi-item instrument.

Methods: We administered a general health survey (SF-12V) that included "standard" and "comparative" forms of a GSRH. We repeated the survey two weeks later to the same 75 medically stable outpatients to test for GSRH reproducibility, reliability, and validity using SF-12V Physical Functioning and Emotional Health subscales as a reference.

Results: At each survey administration, the two GSRH questions demonstrated good alternate forms reliability (first administration: r = 0.74, p < 0.001; second administration: r = 0.74, p < 0.001) and good reproducibility ("standard": ICC 0.69; "comparative": ICC 0.85). Both GSRH items correlated with physical functioning ("standard": r = 0.66; "comparative": r = 0.56) and emotional health measures ("standard": r = 0.65; "comparative": r = 0.59). Mean subscale measures associated with responses in each GSRH category were significantly different (ANOVA, p < 0.001), indicating strong discriminant scale performance.

Conclusions: Our single-item, GSRH questions demonstrated good reproducibility, reliability, and strong concurrent and discriminant scale performance with an established health status measure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • United States