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J Trauma. 2002 Mar;52(3):527-34.

Using the SF-36 for characterizing outcome after multiple trauma involving head injury.

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  • 1Center for Injury Research and Policy, The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the validity of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) for examining outcomes after multiple trauma and to investigate whether the addition of items selected to measure cognitive function could improve the sensitivity of the SF-36 for identifying differences in outcomes for patients with and without head injury.


One thousand two hundred thirty patients discharged from 12 trauma centers were interviewed 1 year after injury. The interview included the SF-36 supplemented with four items chosen to assess cognitive function.


The resulting cognitive function scale is internally consistent and measures a component of health that is independent of the dimensions incorporated in the SF-36. It correlates well with established measures of brain injury severity and discriminates among patients with and without brain injury.


This study underscores the need to supplement the SF-36 with a measure of cognitive function when evaluating outcome from multiple trauma involving head injury. Further studies are needed to validate the specific items chosen for measuring cognitive function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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