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Suboptimal health: a new health dimension for translational medicine

Wei Wang123* and Yuxiang Yan2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medical Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

2 Beijing Municipal Key Laboratory of Clinical Epidemiology and School of Public Health, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China

3 Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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Clinical and Translational Medicine 2012, 1:28  doi:10.1186/2001-1326-1-28

Published: 14 November 2012



One critical premise of disease-related biomarkers is the definition of the counterpart normality. Contrary to pre-clinical models that can be carefully tailored according to scientific need, heterogeneity and uncontrollability is the essence of humans in health studies. Fully characterization of consistent parameters that define the normal population is the basis to individual differences normalization irrelevant to a given disease process. Self claimed normal status may not represent health because asymptomatic subjects may carry chronic diseases or diseases at their early stage such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension.


This paper exemplifies the characterization of the suboptimal health status (SHS) which represents a new public health problem in a population with ambiguous health complaints such as general weakness, unexplained medical syndrome and chronic fatigue. We applied clinical informatics approaches and developed a questionnaire for measuring SHS. The validity and reliability of this approach were evaluated in a small pilot study and then in a cross-sectional study of 3,405 individuals.


The final questionnaire congregated into a score (SHSQ-25) which could significantly distinguish among several abnormal conditions.


SHSQ-25 could be used as a translational medicine instrument for health measuring in the general population.

Suboptimal health; Instrument SHSQ-25; Chronic disease; Translational medicine