Background: There is a paucity of research about health-related quality of life (HRQL) among adolescents, as studies have to a large extent focused on adults. The main aim was to provide information for future studies in this growing field by presenting normative data for the Short Form 36 (SF-36) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) for Swedish adolescents and young adults. Additionally, the influence of age and gender, as well as method of administration, was investigated.
Methods: A sample of 585 persons aged 13-23 was randomly chosen from the general population, and stratified regarding age group (young adolescents: 13-15 years; older adolescents: 16-19 years, and young adults: 20-23 years) and gender (an equal amount of males and females). Within each stratum, the participants were randomized according to two modes of administration, telephone interview and postal questionnaire, and asked to complete the SF-36 and the HADS. Descriptive statistics are presented by survey mode, gender, and age group. A gender comparison was made by independent t-test; and one-way ANOVA was conducted to evaluate age differences.
Results: Effects of age and gender were found: males reported better health-related quality of life than females, and the young adolescents (13-15 years old) reported better HRQL than the two older age groups. The older participants (16-23 years old) reported higher scores when interviewed over the telephone than when they answered a postal questionnaire, a difference which was more marked among females. Interestingly, the 13-15-year-olds did not react to the mode of administration to the same extent.
Conclusion: The importance of taking age, gender, and method of administration into consideration, both when planning studies and when comparing results from different groups, studies, or over time, is stressed.