Validity of self-report measures of girls' pubertal status

Child Dev. 1987 Jun;58(3):829-41.


To understand the meaning of somatic changes to the adolescent and their possible effects on behavior, developmentalists have begun to examine maturational timing and status in detail. Efforts have been hampered by the necessity of obtaining somatic growth data by physician examination. In the present study, 3 self-report methods for rating secondary sexual characteristic growth were compared to physician ratings; the accuracy of self-reported height and weight also was assessed. Specifically, 151 11-, 12-, and 13-year-old girls rated their breast and pubic hair development using schematics of the 5 Tanner stages and filled out the Pubertal Development Scale (PDS); their mothers also rated their daughters' development using the Tanner stage schematics. The correlation with physician Tanner ratings was .82 for self-ratings, .85 for ratings by the mother, and between .61 and .67 for self-reports on the PDS. The correlations for self- and actual reports of weight and height were .98 and .75, respectively. The usefulness of the PDS, Tanner ratings, and self-reported height and weight as adequate estimates of pubertal development is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Puberty*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sexual Maturation*