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Application of generic and specific measures of health status and quality of life to different diseases, conditions, states, and populations is increasing. Four strategies for using these measures are separate generic and specific measures, modified generic measures, disease-specific supplements, and batteries. The preferred strategy depends on project aims, methodological concerns, and practical constraints. Generic measures are necessary to compare outcomes across different populations and interventions, particularly for cost-effectiveness studies. Disease-specific measures assess the special states and concerns of diagnostic groups. Specific measures may be more sensitive for the detection and quantification of small changes that are important to clinicians or patients. Comparison studies are needed of the validity, reliability, and responsiveness of generic and disease-specific measures in the same population and in minority and age-specific groups.