How young can children reliably and validly self-report their health-related quality of life?: an analysis of 8,591 children across age subgroups with the PedsQL 4.0 Generic Core Scales

Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2007 Jan 3;5:1. doi: 10.1186/1477-7525-5-1.


Background: The last decade has evidenced a dramatic increase in the development and utilization of pediatric health-related quality of life (HRQOL) measures in an effort to improve pediatric patient health and well-being and determine the value of healthcare services. The emerging paradigm shift toward patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in clinical trials has provided the opportunity to further emphasize the value and essential need for pediatric patient self-reported outcomes measurement. Data from the PedsQL DatabaseSM were utilized to test the hypothesis that children as young as 5 years of age can reliably and validly report their HRQOL.

Methods: The sample analyzed represented child self-report age data on 8,591 children ages 5 to 16 years from the PedsQL 4.0 Generic Core Scales DatabaseSM. Participants were recruited from general pediatric clinics, subspecialty clinics, and hospitals in which children were being seen for well-child checks, mild acute illness, or chronic illness care (n = 2,603, 30.3%), and from a State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in California (n = 5,988, 69.7%).

Results: Items on the PedsQL 4.0 Generic Core Scales had minimal missing responses for children as young as 5 years old, supporting feasibility. The majority of the child self-report scales across the age subgroups, including for children as young as 5 years, exceeded the minimum internal consistency reliability standard of 0.70 required for group comparisons, while the Total Scale Scores across the age subgroups approached or exceeded the reliability criterion of 0.90 recommended for analyzing individual patient scale scores. Construct validity was demonstrated utilizing the known groups approach. For each PedsQL scale and summary score, across age subgroups, including children as young as 5 years, healthy children demonstrated a statistically significant difference in HRQOL (better HRQOL) than children with a known chronic health condition, with most effect sizes in the medium to large effect size range.

Conclusion: The results demonstrate that children as young as the 5 year old age subgroup can reliably and validly self-report their HRQOL when given the opportunity to do so with an age-appropriate instrument. These analyses are consistent with recent FDA guidelines which require instrument development and validation testing for children and adolescents within fairly narrow age groupings and which determine the lower age limit at which children can provide reliable and valid responses across age categories.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health*
  • California
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / instrumentation*
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Self-Assessment*