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01-09-2011 | Brief Communication | Uitgave 7/2011 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 7/2011

How useful are the SF-36 sub-scales in older people? Mokken scaling of data from the HALCyon programme

Tijdschrift:
Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 7/2011
Auteurs:
Gita D. Mishra, Catharine R. Gale, Avan Aihie Sayer, Cyrus Cooper, Elaine M. Dennison, Lawrence J. Whalley, Leone Craig, Diana Kuh, Ian J. Deary, The HALCyon Study Team

Abstract

Purpose

To evaluate two psychometric properties of SF-36, namely unidimensionality and reliability.

Methods

The data are from three cohorts in the HALCyon collaborative research programme into healthy ageing: Aberdeen Birth Cohort 1936 (n = 428), Hertfordshire Ageing Study (n = 358) and Hertfordshire Cohort Study (n = 3,216). The Mokken scaling model was applied to each sub-scale of SF-36 to evaluate unidimensionality as indicated by scalability. The lower bound for internal consistency reliability was determined by Cronbach’s alpha.

Results

All six sub-scales of SF-36, with the exception of general health (GH) and mental health (MH), demonstrated strong scalability (0.5 ≤ H < 1). The results were consistent across all 3 cohorts. Both GH and MH showed medium scalability (0.4 ≤ H <0.55), although individual items ‘sick easier..’, ‘as healthy as..’ and ‘expect to get worse’ of the GH sub-scale and ‘nervous’, ‘happy’ in the MH sub-scale had low scalability (H < 0.4) in the oldest cohort (aged 73–83). Cronbach’s alphas for all sub-scales were between 0.70 and 0.92.

Conclusions

The unidimensionality and reliability of the sub-scales of SF-36 are sufficient to make this a useful measure of health-related quality of life in older people. Caution is needed when interpreting the results for GH and MH in the oldest cohort due to the poor unidimensionality.

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