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Med Care. 1999 May;37(5 Suppl):MS1-9.

Monitoring health outcomes among patients with arthritis using the SF-36 Health Survey: overview.

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  • 1Health Assessment Lab, Health Institute, New England Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.


As shown here, general health measures cover much of the content included in arthritis-specific measures, but, are they equally sensitive to changes in disease condition? We reviewed the literature on the most widely used general health measure, the SF-36 Health Survey, to see if the empirical evidence supported its validity for use in arthritis patients. As of this writing, there was no documentation of the sensitivity of the SF-36 to short-term changes in arthritic condition over the course of clinical trials and few studies that compared the sensitivity of the SF-36 to arthritis-specific measures. The empirical research reported in this special supplement contributes to the literature on the use of the SF-36 in arthritis patients and demonstrates methods of studying the validity of general health measures to monitor change in specific conditions.

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