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Listening to respondents: : a qualitative assessment of the Short-Form 36 Health Status Questionnaire


  • Mallinson, Sara


Standardised health status questionnaires are widely used to obtain subjective assessments of health. However, little research has investigated the meaning of the data they produce. Statistical tests will highlight some problems with the structure and wording of a questionnaire but they cannot shed any light on the way in which respondents interpret questions or their intended meaning when they select a response. Various qualitative techniques are being used within disciplines such as sociology and psychology to test both the language of survey instruments and the cognitive bases of surveys. This paper outlines some of these methods and reports findings from a qualitative research study in the UK with a widely used questionnaire- the Short-Form 36 Health Status Questionnaire. The value of including in-depth, qualitative validation techniques in the development and testing of surveys used to collect subjective assessments of health is clearly demonstrated by the findings of the study.

Suggested Citation

  • Mallinson, Sara, 2002. "Listening to respondents: : a qualitative assessment of the Short-Form 36 Health Status Questionnaire," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 11-21, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:54:y:2002:i:1:p:11-21

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    Cited by:

    1. Susanne Thayssen & Dorte Gilså Hansen & Jens Søndergaard & Mette Terp Høybye & Palle Mark Christensen & Helle Ploug Hansen, 2016. "Completing a Questionnaire at Home Prior to Needs Assessment in General Practice: A Qualitative Study of Cancer Patients’ Experience," The Patient: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research, Springer;Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, vol. 9(3), pages 223-230, June.
    2. Jin-Tan Liu & Meng-Wen Tsou & James K. Hammitt, 2007. "Health Information and Subjective Survival Probability: Evidence from Taiwan," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 149-175, March.
    3. Al-Janabi, Hareth & Keeley, Thomas & Mitchell, Paul & Coast, Joanna, 2013. "Can capabilities be self-reported? A think aloud study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 116-122.
    4. Korfage, Ida Joanna & Hak, Tony & de Koning, Harry J. & Essink-Bot, Marie-Louise, 2006. "Patients' perceptions of the side-effects of prostate cancer treatment--A qualitative interview study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 911-919, August.
    5. Laura Camfield & Gina Crivello & Martin Woodhead, 2009. "Wellbeing Research in Developing Countries: Reviewing the Role of Qualitative Methods," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 90(1), pages 5-31, January.
    6. Joanna Sale, 2007. "Perceptions of a Quality of Work-Life Survey from the Perspective of Employees in a Canadian Cancer Centre," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 41(6), pages 779-791, December.
    7. Bie Ong & Kate Dunn & Peter Croft, 2006. "“Since You’re Asking. . . ”: Free Text Commentaries in an Epidemiological Study of Low Back Pain Consulters in Primary Care," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 651-659, August.
    8. Wim Peersman & Dirk Cambier & Jan Maeseneer & Sara Willems, 2012. "Gender, educational and age differences in meanings that underlie global self-rated health," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 57(3), pages 513-523, June.


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