Choosing the "Correct" Assessment Tool

Denise J. Smith, Jef Huntington, Jeff A. Sloan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We present the family vacation analogy: Vacations are fun and exciting adventures for most families, often taken through unfamiliar cities and towns. Although the territory is unknown, there will undoubtedly be at least one convenient and well-known fast food restaurant. Although not a bad choice for dining, national fast food chains are often over-utilized as the main food source for vacationers. With a little advanced planning, a vacationer can easily find other restaurants to suit their needs. Utilizing a QOL instrument is not all that different from this light-hearted analogy. For many researchers, QOL is an unfamiliar subject and the most popular QOL instruments are chosen because of convenience. For example, the SF-36 is an excellent QOL instrument, yet it is over utilized because of its popularity when a disease-specific instrument might be more appropriate. Using the algorithm (Fig 1) during the planning phase of a study, an appropriate instrument tailored to the research study can be selected. It is important to allow the scientific process to determine the instrument selection, not availability or convenience. Experience has shown that a naïve selection of a QOL instrument for a research study will likely show an inability for the QOL assessment to detect a true difference or produce meaningful results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-282
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Problems in Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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