Modification of the SF-36 for a headache population changes patient-reported health status

Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 05/07/2012

isinterpretation of the concepts of health, physical health, pain, and bodily pain, although commonly used by the SF–36 in many populations, could influence responses on this measure, as respondents may not relate their head/headaches to these constructs. To ensure that accurate data are obtained in relation to the quality of life of headache patients, consideration should be given to using a form of the SF–36 that has been modified to allow appropriate interpretation of the questions completed by headache patients.


  • The wording of several SF–36 questions were adapted for a headache population by making specific reference to “headaches” when asking people to rate the impact of health issues on their life.
  • The results of the modified “Headache” SF–36 were compared with a similar population of transformed migraine patients who had completed the “Standard” SF–36.


  • Significant differences were found between scores for the “Standard” SF–36 group and the “Headache” SF–36 group across all SF–36 variables except for “General Health.”

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