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The concept of perceived control is central to many theories of physical and emotional well-being. However, existing measures are lengthy and generally focus on job control. In epidemiological research, brief measures and those which can be applied across entire populations are needed. Among women in particular, a substantial minority have no paid work, while most also have major unpaid family commitments which may affect well-being through their effect on control. Thus, we evaluated the six-item Life Control Scale (Bobak, Soc Sci Med. 47:269-79, 1998) with a population-based sample of middle-aged women.A population-based sample of 11,223 women aged 50 to 55, participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, completed the Life Control Scale as part of an omnibus survey of health and psychosocial factors.The scale was demonstrated to be unifactorial and internally reliable and to show the expected relationships with several measures of socioeconomic position, physical health, and mental health.The Life Control Scale is brief, valid, and broadly applicable in epidemiological research.