Objectives: The aim of this study was to develop a taxonomy of health profile-types that describe adolescents' patterns of health as self-reported on a health status questionnaire. The intent was to be able to assign individuals to mutually exclusive and exhaustive groups that characterize the important aspects of their health and need for health services.
Methods: Cluster analytic empirical methods and clinically based conceptual methods were used to identify patterns of health in samples of adolescents from schools and from clinics that serve adolescents with chronic conditions and acute illnesses. Individuals with similar patterns of scores across multiple domains were assigned to the same profile-type. Results from the empirical and conceptually based methods were integrated to produce a practical system for assigning youths to profile-types.
Results: Four domains of health (Satisfaction, Discomfort, Risks and Resilience) were used to group individuals into 13 distinct profile-types. The profile-types were characterized primarily by the number of domains in which health is poor, identifying the unique combinations of problems that characterize different subgroups of adolescents.
Conclusions: This method of reporting the information available on health status surveys is potentially a more informative way of identifying and classifying the health needs of subgroups in the population than is available from global scores or multiple scale scores. The reliability and validity of this taxonomy of health profile-types for the purposes of planning and evaluating health services must be demonstrated. That is the purpose of the accompanying study.