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Measurement equivalence: a glossary for comparative population health research
  1. Katherine Ann Morris
  1. Correspondence to Katherine Ann Morris, Department of Sociology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; kmorris{at}


Comparative population health studies are becoming more common and are advancing solutions to crucial public health problems, but decades-old measurement equivalence issues remain without a common vocabulary to identify and address the biases that contribute to non-equivalence. This glossary defines sources of measurement non-equivalence. While drawing examples from both within-country and between-country studies, this glossary also defines methods of harmonisation and elucidates the unique opportunities in addition to the unique challenges of particular harmonisation methods. Its primary objective is to enable population health researchers to more clearly articulate their measurement assumptions and the implications of their findings for policy. It is also intended to provide scholars and policymakers across multiple areas of inquiry with tools to evaluate comparative research and thus contribute to urgent debates on how to ameliorate growing health disparities within and between countries.

  • measurement
  • health inequalities
  • international hlth
  • measurement tool development
  • surveillance

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  • Contributors The development and writing of this glossary was completed by KAM.

  • Funding KAM is supported by the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard University. Work for this glossary was supported in part by the National Institute on Aging grant # R01AG040248 (Principal Investigator: Lisa Berkman).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.