A shorter form health survey: can the SF-12 replicate results from the SF-36 in longitudinal studies?

J Public Health Med. 1997 Jun;19(2):179-86. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.pubmed.a024606.


Background: The SF-36 is a generic health status measure which has gained popularity as a measure of outcome in a wide variety of patient groups and social surveys. However, there is a need for even shorter measures, which reduce respondent burden. The developers of the SF-36 have consequently suggested that a 12-item sub-set of the items may accurately reproduce the two summary component scores which can be derived from the SF-36 [the Physical Component Summary Score (PCS) and Mental Health Component Summary Score (MCS)]. In this paper, we adopt scoring algorithms for the UK SF-36 and SF-12 summary scores to evaluate the picture of change gained in various treatment groups.

Methods: The SF-36 was administered in three treatment groups (ACE inhibitors for congestive heart failure, continuous positive airways therapy for sleep apnoea, and open vs laparoscopic surgery for inguinal hernia).

Results: PCS and MCS scores calculated from the SF-36 or a sub-set of 12 items (the 'SF-12') were virtually identical, and indicated the same magnitude of ill-health and degree of change over time.

Conclusion: The results suggest that where two summary scores of health status are adequate than the SF-12 may be the instrument of choice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Hernia, Inguinal / surgery
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / standards
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors