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Abstract: The SF-36 is a self-reported, 36-item, generic measure of health status that has been validated for adult age groups in the United States, the United Kingdom and in some non-English-speaking countries. The Australian Bureau of Statistics used it in the 1995 National Health Survey and it has been used in health status measurement, in monitoring health outcomes and in clinical trials. The validity of the SF-36 was examined in the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health Record Linkage Study using a sample of 555 respondents to the National Heart Foundation Risk Factor Prevalence Survey in 1989; they were followed up in 1992. Items chosen for the scale had been used in health status assessment and had stood the test of time. The health concepts measured demonstrated good internal consistency. The eight scales of the SF-36 formed factors as predicted in the general health dimensions of physical and mental health. The component scales of the SF-36 demonstrated good discrimination between people with and without health conditions, including those with medical and those with psychiatric types of conditions. Although the SF-36 was a valid measure of general health status among Australian respondents, further work is needed to establish clinical validity and to produce population norms for Australia. Use of the SF-36 will allow Australian and international comparison of health status from the point of view of the users of health services.