Developing summary scores of health-related quality of life for a population-based survey

Willi Horner-Johnson, Gloria Krahn, Elena Andresen, Trevor Hall, Vincent Campbell, Brad Cardinal, Charles Drum, Glenn Fujiura, Eric Jamoom, Margaret Nosek, Rie Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an important indicator of public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) includes nine HRQOL items that can be used to monitor the health status of the nation. The objective of this study was to examine the numerical relationships among these HRQOL items to develop summary scores by combining items. Methods. Using 2001 and 2002 BRFSS data from states that included all nine HRQOL questions, factor analyses were performed to determine whether the items would group together into multi-item scales. Results. Two factors emerged, corresponding conceptually to a physical health construct and a mental health construct. The resulting scales demonstrated acceptable internal consistency and ability to distinguish between population subgroups known to differ on HRQOL. Conclusions. This study provides support for condensing the BRFSS core and optional HRQOL questions into two scales. These scales provide more complete information about physical and mental HRQOL than is available from single items, while limiting the number of individual variables required for a given analysis. However, the four core HRQOL questions focus primarily on physical health. Thus, the five supplemental questions should be included when measuring mental health is of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalPublic health reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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