Increasing emphasis is being placed on the evaluation of health-related quality of life. However, there is no consensus on the definition of this concept and as a result there are a plethora of existing measurement instruments. Head-to-head comparisons of the psychometric properties of existing instruments are necessary to facilitate evidence-based decisions about which instrument should be chosen for routine use. Therefore, an individualised instrument (the modified Patient Generated Index (PGI)), a generic instrument (the Short Form 36) and a disease-specific instrument (the Quality of Life after Myocardial Infarction questionnaire) were administered to patients with ischaemic heart disease ( n = 117) and the evidence for the validity, reliability and sensitivity of each instrument was examined and compared. The modified PGI compared favourably with the other instruments but none of the instruments examined provided sound evidence for sensitivity to change. Therefore, any recommendation for the use of the individualised approach in the routine collection of health-related quality of life data in clinical practice must be conditional upon the submission of further evidence to support the sensitivity of such instruments.
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