Measurement properties and normative data for the Norwegian SF-36: results from a general population survey

Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2017 Mar 14;15(1):51. doi: 10.1186/s12955-017-0625-9.


Background: The interpretation of the SF-36 in Norwegian populations largely uses normative data from 1996. This study presents data for the general population from 2002-2003 which has been used for comparative purposes but has not been assessed for measurement properties.

Methods: As part of the Norwegian Level of Living Survey 2002-2003, a postal survey was conducted comprising 9,164 members of the general population aged 16 years and over representative for Norway who received the Norwegian SF-36 version 1.2. The SF-36 was assessed against widely applied criteria including data completeness and assumptions relating to the construction and scoring of multi-item scales. Normative data are given for the eight SF-36 scales and the two summary scales (PCS, MCS) for eight age groups and gender.

Results: There were 5,396 (58.9%) respondents. Item levels of missing data ranged from 0.6 to 3.0% with scale scores computable for 97.5 to 99.8% of respondents. All item-total correlations were above 0.4 and were of a similar level with the exceptions of the easiest and most difficult physical function items and two general health items. Cronbach's alpha exceeded 0.8 for all scales. Under 5% of respondents scored at the floor for five scales. Role-physical had the highest floor effect (14.6%) and together with role-emotional had the highest ceiling effects (66.3-76.8%). With three exceptions for the eight age groups, females had lower scores than males across the eight health scales. The two youngest age groups (<30 years) had the highest scores for physical aspects of health; physical function, role-physical, bodily pain and general health. The age groups 40-49 and 60-69 years had the highest scores for role-emotional and mental health respectively.

Conclusions: This SF-36 data meet necessary criteria for applications of normative data. The data is more recent, has more respondents including older people than the original Norwegian normative data from 1996, and can help the interpretation of SF-36 scores in applications that include clinical and health services research.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life*
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Young Adult