The French SF-36 Health Survey: translation, cultural adaptation and preliminary psychometric evaluation

J Clin Epidemiol. 1998 Nov;51(11):1013-23. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(98)00093-6.


This article reports on the main developmental stages and on the preliminary psychometric assessment of the final French version of the SF-36. A standard forward/backward translation procedure was followed. When translating survey items, the emphasis was placed on conceptual equivalence. When translating response choices, we attempted to select a set of response choices that replicate the U.S. version. The distance between the response choices was checked using visual analogue scales (N = 30). The adaptation procedure also included formal ratings of the difficulty of the translation, of the quality of the translation, and of the equivalence between the American source version and the French target version. The face validity was checked during lay panel sessions at which the translated questionnaire was administered to subjects from the general public, hospital employees, and subjects with a low level of education. Standard psychometric techniques were used to evaluate the cultural adaptation of the SF-36, using data from a general population survey. The main objective of this analysis was to determine how well the scaling assumptions (summated rating or Likert-type scaling construction) of the SF-36 were satisfied. The results support the claim that the scaling properties of the French version of the SF-36 are adequate and that health outcomes may be reliably assessed using this version of the instrument.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • France / epidemiology
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Psychometrics*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Translations