Single-item vs multiple-item measures of health-related quality of life

Psychol Rep. 1991 Aug;69(1):127-30. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1991.69.1.127.


Many survey instruments measure health-related quality of life. Researchers can choose from instruments ranging in length from one to several hundred items. A small sample of 35 chronically ill adults self-administered the Short-form General Health Survey of the Medical Outcomes Study, a 20-item health-related quality-of-life measure with established reliability and validity. One specific item on the MOS questionnaire can serve as a single-item measure of health-related quality of life. This one item correlated positively and significantly with the over-all score for health-related quality of life. The results of this analysis support the use of this single-item measure of health-related quality of life when multiple-item instruments are not suitable due to limitations of resources or sample size.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sick Role*