Date of Thesis

Spring 2020


Self-perceived health is often used as a proxy of personal health for research in such diverse fields as population health, epidemiology, medical sociology, and health economics. Perceived health is predictive of chronic disease incidence, recovery, use of medical services, and even mortality. Various scales have been developed in an attempt to quantify perceived health, including the Short Form 12 (SF-12), which has been regarded as the gold standard since its development in 1995. The SF-12 -- though it achieves an effective balance between length, reliability, and validity -- is not included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which produces vital and health statistics representative of the civilian population of the United States. The present study constructs and validates a novel SF-12-equivalent measure for the NHANES setting using analogous items from the publicly released NHANES interview questionnaires. The distribution of scores of the resulting measure is consistent with general knowledge of population health patterns and closely parallels the behavior of the original SF-12 in selected population subgroups. Once validated, the novel measure is employed in regression analysis to evaluate clinical and demographic influences on health perception among American adults. All analyses account for the complex survey design of NHANES to ensure that results are generalizable to the overall U.S. adult population. Ultimately, the study produces a perceived health scale compatible for use with NHANES, one of the United States' principal sources of population health data, as well as furthers the understanding of clinical and demographic factors that influence self-perceived health.


NHANES, perceived health, Short Form 12, health statistics

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science



Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration


First Advisor

Owais Gilani

Second Advisor

Anna Baker