Clinical Guide > Testing and Assessment > Karnofsky Scale

Karnofsky Performance Scale

January 2011

Chapter Contents


The Karnofsky Performance Scale is an assessment tool intended to assist clinicians and caretakers in gauging a patient's functional status and ability to carry out activities of daily living.

It is important to assess a patient's performance on a regular basis, especially as the effects of HIV progress. Documentation of Karnofsky scores over time may be very useful in following a patient's course of illness, and can help a disabled patient in his/her application for disability benefits. It also is used for some research applications.

Table 1. The Karnofsky Performance Scale

DescriptionPercent (%)
Normal; no complaints; no evidence of disease100
Able to carry on normal activity; minor signs or symptoms of disease90
Normal activity with effort; some signs or symptoms of disease80
Cares for self; unable to carry on normal activity or do work70
Requires occasional assistance, but is able to care for most personal needs60
Requires considerable assistance and frequent medical care50
Disabled; requires special care and assistance40
Severely disabled; hospitalization indicated although death not imminent30
Very sick; hospitalization necessary; requires active support treatment20
Moribund; fatal processes progressing rapidly10