36-Item Short Form Survey


Originally published in 1992 in Medical Care, the 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) is a measure of health-related quality-of-life. It is a subset of questions from longer instruments that were used in the Medical Outcomes Study. There have been a variety of iterations of this tool, and the version presented here is more specifically known as the RAND SF-36.

The SF-36, as described in the name, is a 36-item patient-reported questionnaire that covers eight health domains:

  • physical functioning (10 items),
  • bodily pain (2 items),
  • role limitations due to physical health problems (4 items),
  • role limitations due to personal or emotional problems (4 items),
  • emotional well-being (5 items), social functioning (2 items),
  • energy/fatigue (4 items), and
  • general health perceptions (5 items).

Scores for each domain range from 0 to 100, with a higher score defining a more favorable health state.

Use the following EVALUATION FORM to evaluate your patient and PRINT THE FORM when the evaluation is completed.

Intended Population

The original authors designed the SF-36 to measure health at the individual level in clinical practice and research and at the population level for health policy evaluations, and general population surveys. It has been used in thousands of research studies. The SF-36 was originally designed as a generic health measure but has also been applied to specific disease populations.

Reliability and Validity


Most of these studies that examined the reliability of the SF_36 have exceeded 0.80 (McHorney et al., 1994; Ware et al., 1993). Estimates of reliability in the physical and mental sections are typically above 0.90.


The SF-36 is also well validated.


  1. Ware, J.E., Jr., & Sherbourne, C.D. “The MOS 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36): I. Conceptual Framework and Item Selection,”. Medical Care, 30:473-483, 1992.
  2. Hays, R.D., & Shapiro, M.F. “An Overview of Generic Health-Related Quality of Life Measures for HIV Research,” Quality of Life Research. 1:91-97, 1992.
  3. Steward, A.L., Sherbourne, C., Hayes, R.D., et al. “Summary and Discussion of MOS Measures,” in A.L. Stewart & J.E. Ware (eds.), Measuring Functioning and Well-Being: The Medical Outcome Study Approach (pp. 345-371). Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992.

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