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J Nurs Meas. 2010;18(1):49-59.

Reliability and validity testing of the short-form health survey in a sample of community-dwelling African American older adults.

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  • 1Wayne State University, Institute of Gerontology, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


The Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12; Ware, Kosinski, & Keller, 1996) is a widely used screening device for measuring physical and mental health to assess quality of life. However, limited psychometric data exist for older adults, especially minority aging samples. Findings from Resnick and Nahm (2001) suggest revising traditional SF-12 scoring for use in older adults because of different factor loadings for two questions. This study sought to examine the reliability and validity of a verbally administered SF-12 in a community-dwelling sample of African Americans using the Detroit City-Wide Needs Assessment Database (N = 985). Reliability analysis resulted in an overall Cronbach's alpha of 0.77. Factor analysis with principal components extraction and varimax rotation yielded two factors. Consistent with Resnick and Nahm (2001), question 10 loaded on the physical health factor and question 12 on both the physical and the mental health factors. The overall SF-12 score was significantly related to use of home health services, visits to a physician, number of prescription drugs, as well as number of chronic diseases. The SF-12 appears to be a valid and reliable measure used as a screening device for use with African American elders overall. However, for optimal measurement, modifications to traditional scoring methods for the SF-12 should be considered.

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