Study objective: The aim of this paper is to systematically review and analyse the validity and reliability of Antonovsky's life orientation questionnaire/sense of coherence scale (SOC).
Design: The study is descriptive and analytical with a systematic integration of the contemporary knowledge base on the salutogenic research published 1992–2003. The review includes 458 scientific publications and 13 doctoral theses.
Setting: Worldwide, based on postgraduate scientific publications in eight authorised databases, doctoral theses, and available books.
Main results: The SOC questionnaire has been used in at least 33 languages in 32 countries with at least 15 different versions of the questionnaire. In 124 studies using SOC-29 the Cronbach's α ranges from 0.70 to 0.95. The α values in 127 studies using SOC-13 range from 0.70 to 0.92, and in 60 studies using a modified SOC scale range from 0.35 to 0.91. Test-retest correlation show stability and range from 0.69 to 0.78 (1 year), 0.64 (3 years), 0.42 to 0.45 (4 years), 0.59 to 0.67 (5 years) to 0.54 (10 years). The means of SOC-29 range 100.50 (SD 28.50) to 164.50 (SD 17.10) points and SOC-13 from 35.39 (SD 0.10) to 77.60 (SD 13.80) points. After 10 years SOC seems to be comparatively stable, but not as stable as Antonovsky initially assumed. SOC tends to increase with age. The factorial structure of SOC seems rather to be multidimensional than unidimensional. SOC predicts a positive outcome in a long term perspective, although there are divergent findings reported. The SOC scale seems to be a reliable, valid, and cross culturally applicable instrument measuring how people manage stressful situations and stay well.