Karnofsky performance status

Last revised by Frank Gaillard on 6 Apr 2022

The Karnofsky performance status (KPS) is a standardized measure of a patient’s ability to perform a variety of ordinary tasks. It is a score that ranges from 0 to 100 with a higher score indicating higher (less impaired) function. It is widely used in trials and allows for patient groups to be compared.


  • 100: normal; no complaints; no evidence of disease
  • 90: able to carry on normal activity; minor signs or symptoms of disease
  • 80: normal activity with effort; some signs or symptoms of disease
  • 70: cares for self; unable to carry on normal activity or to do active work
  • 60: requires occasional assistance, but is able to care for most of their personal needs
  • 50: requires considerable assistance and frequent medical care.
  • 40: disabled; requires special care and assistance
  • 30: severely disabled; hospital admission is indicated although death is not imminent
  • 20: very sick; hospital admission necessary; active supportive treatment necessary
  • 10: moribund; fatal processes progressing rapidly
  • 0: dead

History and etymology

Karnofsky performance status was first published by David A. Karnofsky et al in 1948 as part of a paper on the efficacy of nitrogen mustards on carcinoma 1

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