What is the use? Application of the short form (SF) questionnaires for the evaluation of treatment effects

A.J.M. Pelle, N. Kupper, F. Mols, P. de Jonge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Health status has evolved as a clinical outcome measure that is of great interest in medical care. However, there is still debate about the appropriateness of scoring algorithms for the often used short form questionnaires. Therefore, our aim was to evaluate the consequences of the traditional scoring procedure based on orthogonal factor rotation for clinical applications by (a) re-evaluating the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness of antidepressants in improving health status in cardiac patients and (b) comparing empirical evidence on depression and health status using orthogonal and oblique factor rotation (alternative scoring method) in a community sample and a heart failure (HF) sample.
This is a systematic literature review and cross-sectional analysis among 1,598 community sample participants and 282 HF patients.
Orthogonal rotation artificially forces the mental component summary (MCS) and physical component summary (PCS) to be unrelated, which is illustrated in two of the three included RCTs. Two RCTs showed improvements in MCS, but no improvement in PCS over time. Cross-sectional analysis in the two datasets showed that employing the alternative scoring algorithm resulted in higher negative correlations of MCS and PCS with depression, and a gradual decline in MCS with each decile of decline in PCS.
Our data showed that appropriate carefulness is needed when calculating and interpreting summary scores. The traditional scoring algorithm seems inappropriate to objectively evaluate the effects of interventions on both the MCS and the PCS. Awareness in the design and evaluation of interventions using these outcomes is warranted.
Keywords: SF-12, Health status, Heart failure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1230
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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