Evaluation of the methodological quality of systematic reviews of health status measurement instruments

Qual Life Res. 2009 Apr;18(3):313-33. doi: 10.1007/s11136-009-9451-9. Epub 2009 Feb 24.


A systematic review of measurement properties of health-status instruments is a tool for evaluating the quality of instruments. Our aim was to appraise the quality of the review process, to describe how authors assess the methodological quality of primary studies of measurement properties, and to describe how authors evaluate results of the studies. Literature searches were performed in three databases. One hundred and forty-eight reviews were included. The purpose of included reviews was to identify health status instruments used in an evaluative application and to report on the measurement properties of these instruments. Two independent reviewers selected the articles and extracted the data. Reviews were often of low quality: 22% of the reviews used one database, the search strategy was often poorly described, and in many cases it was not reported whether article selection (75%) and data extraction (71%) was done by two independent reviewers. In 11 reviews the methodological quality of the primary studies was evaluated for all measurement properties, and of these 11 reviews only 7 evaluated the results. Methods to evaluate the quality of the primary studies and the results differed widely. The poor quality of reviews hampers evidence-based selection of instruments. Guidelines for conducting and reporting systematic reviews of measurement properties should be developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Young Adult