STUDY OBJECTIVE: To clarify concepts and methodological problems in existing multidimensional health status measures for children. DESIGN: Thematic review of instruments found by computerised and manual searches, 1979-95. SUBJECTS: Nine health status instruments. MAIN RESULTS: Many instruments did not satisfy criteria of being child centered or family focussed; few had sufficient psychometric properties for research or clinical use; underlying conceptual assumptions were rarely explicit. CONCLUSIONS: Quality of life measures should be viewed cautiously. Interdisciplinary discussion is required, as well as discussion with children and parents, to establish constructs that are truly useful.
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