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The Short Form (36) Health Survey is a patient-reported survey of patient health. The SF-36 is a measure of health status and an abbreviated variant of it, the SF-6D, is commonly used in health economics as a variable in the quality-adjusted life year calculation to determine the cost-effectiveness of a health treatment. The original SF-36 came out from the Medical Outcome Study, MOS, done by the RAND Corporation. Since then a group of researchers from the original study released a commercial version of SF-36 while the original SF-36 is available in public domain license free from RAND.

Difference between the SF-36 and the RAND-36[edit]

The SF-36 and RAND-36 include the same set of items that were developed in the Medical Outcomes Study. Scoring of the general health and pain scales is different between the versions. The differences in scoring are summarized by Hays, Sherbourne, and Mazel (Health Economics, 2: 217-227, 1993)


[1] The SF-36 consists of eight scaled scores, which are the weighted sums of the questions in their section. Each scale is directly transformed into a 0-100 scale on the assumption that each question carries equal weight. The lower the score the more disability. The higher the score the less disability i.e., a score of zero is equivalent to maximum disability and a score of 100 is equivalent to no disability. To calculate, the scores, it is necessary to purchase special software. Pricing depends on the number of scores that the researcher needs to calculate.

The eight sections are:

  • vitality
  • physical functioning
  • bodily pain
  • general health perceptions
  • physical role functioning
  • emotional role functioning
  • social role functioning
  • mental health


  • Evaluating individual patients health status
  • Researching the cost-effectiveness of a treatment
  • Monitoring and comparing disease burden


  • The survey does not take into consideration a sleep variable
  • The survey has a low response rate in the >65 population[2]


  1. ^ SF 36 https://www.rand.org/health/surveys_tools/mos/mos_core_36item.html
  2. ^ http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/content/28/6/562.full.pdf

Further reading[edit]