Usefulness of the SF-36 Health Survey in measuring health outcomes in the depressed elderly

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Activities of Daily Living; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Antidepressive Agents; Cost of Illness; Depressive Disorder; Double-Blind Method; Female; Fluoxetine; Geriatric Assessment; Humans; Longitudinal Studies; Male; Middle Aged; Personality Inventory; Psychometrics; Reproducibility of Results; Treatment Outcome


Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


Longitudinal data from a clinical trial were analyzed to evaluate the usefulness of the SF-36 Health Survey in estimating the impact of depression and changes in severity over time on the functional health and well-being of 532 patients, 60 to 86 years of age, who met DSM-III-R criteria for major depressive disorder. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Clinician's Global Impression of Severity and Improvement, and the Geriatric Depression Scale were used to define clinical severity and changes in severity over a 6-week period. Answers to SF-36 questions tended to be complete and to satisfy assumptions underlying methods of scale construction and scoring. As hypothesized, the SF-36 Mental Health Scale and Mental Component Summary measure, shown in previous studies to be most valid in measuring differences in mental health, exhibited the strongest associations with severity of depression in cross-sectional analyses and were most responsive to changes in severity in longitudinal comparisons. We conclude that the SF-36 Health Survey is useful for estimating the burden of depression and in monitoring changes in functional health and well-being over time among the depressed elderly.


J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 1996 Jan;9(1):13-21.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of geriatric psychiatry and neurology

PubMed ID


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Link to Article in PubMed

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