Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health related quality of life measured by SF-36: a population-based study in Shanghai, China

Rui Wang1, Cheng Wu1, Yanfang Zhao1, Xiaoyan Yan1, Xiuqiang Ma1, Meijing Wu1, Wenbin Liu2, Zheng Gu2, June Zhao2 and Jia He1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Statistics, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, PR China

2 R&D Medical affairs, AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, Shanghai, PR China

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:292  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-292

Published: 19 August 2008



Health related quality of life (HRQL) is a research topic that has attracted increasing interests around the world over the past two decades. The 36-item Short Form (SF-36) is a commonly used instrument for measuring HRQL. However, the information on Chinese adults' quality of life is limited. This paper reports on the feasibility of using the Mandarin version of SF-36 to evaluate HRQL in the population of Shanghai, China.


A total of 1034 subjects were randomly sampled using a stratified multiple-stage sampling method in Shanghai. Demographic information was collected, and SF-36 was used to measure HRQL.


Internal reliability coefficients were greater than 0.7 in six of the eight SF-36 dimensions, except social function and mental health. Intraclass correlation coefficients ranged from 0.689 to 0.972. Split-half reliability coefficients were higher than 0.9 in five SF-36 dimensions. Validity was assessed by factor analysis and correlation analysis. Our results were basically in accordance with the theoretical construction of SF-36. The average scores of most SF-36 dimensions were higher than 80. The primary influencing risk factors of HRQL included chronic diseases, age, frequency of activities, and geographical region, which were identified using multivariate stepwise regression.


Overall, HRQL in the population of Shanghai is quite good. The Mandarin version of SF-36 is a valid and reliable tool for assessing HRQL.