Normative data of shoulder activity level by age and sex

Clifford Tate Hepper, Matthew V. Smith, Karen Steger-May, Robert H. Brophy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: The shoulder activity score is a valid and reliable shoulder-specific questionnaire that measures a patient's shoulder activity level over the previous year. No age- and sex-based normative data exist for the shoulder activity score. Hypothesis: The hypothesis was that age is inversely related to the shoulder activity score in patients with no history of shoulder symptoms or treatment for a shoulder condition. The authors also tested the hypothesis that in the same population of patients, men are more active with their shoulders than women. Study Design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Participants in 8 age/sex groups, composed of adults aged 18 years and older in the United States, were surveyed via the Internet by a marketing research firm. Participants completed the shoulder activity score and reported their age, sex, and any history of shoulder symptoms or treatment. The survey was sent to 2773 people, with 2403 people completing the entire survey. Participants with a history of shoulder symptoms or treatment were excluded from this analysis, leaving 1625 patients as healthy controls. Results: The mean shoulder activity score of healthy controls was 8 ± 5 (range, 0-20). Men scored higher on the shoulder activity score than women of the same age group (9 vs 7, respectively; P < .0001). Shoulder activity scores decreased with age in both men and women (P < .0001). Men were more likely to participate in contact (15% vs 7.4%, respectively; P < .001) and overheadthrowing sports (19% vs 10%, respectively; P < .001) than women. Participation in contact and overhead-throwing sports also decreased with age. Conclusion: In healthy controls, the shoulder activity score decreased with age and was lower in women than in men. Participation in contact and overhead-throwing sports decreased in women and older patients. These normative data are an important baseline for comparing untreated and treated shoulder cohorts to better understand the variance in shoulder activity level and how it may relate to clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1151
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2013


  • Age and sex
  • Normative data
  • Outcome measure
  • Shoulder activity scale


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