General health status and a broader concept of quality of life are discussed and methods of widely used surveys are reviewed. A consensus regarding the inclusion of measures of physical, mental, social, and role functioning and general health perceptions is noted for comprehensive assessments of health. A schematic of relationships among condition-specific and generic measures is presented along with results expected for objective and subjective measures of physical and mental dimensions of health. Suggestions are offered for the labeling of disease-specific and generic measures and ways to avoid confounding of content. Applications of health surveys in general population monitoring, health policy evaluation, clinical trials of alternative treatments, monitoring and improving of health care outcomes, and in everyday clinical practice are exemplified and discussed. A unified measurement strategy is proposed and arguments in favor of standardizing the content of health surveys across applications are offered.