What are good words for a five-point ordinal scale? The scale should represent increasing severity of disease, where 1 is normal and 5 is severe.

I thought of the following words (with their value in words in parentheses):

  1. normal (= no disease)
  2. mild (= low disease presence)
  3. moderate (= between normal and severe)
  4. moderately severe (= not the worst case, nor in the middle)
  5. severe (= worst form of disease)

I'm not happy with moderately severe, though, and I can't find a good alternative. Also, I'm not fond of moderate, because it somewhat has the same value as mild. Another word that might be used in the scale is slight, which would be second to normal. I'd like to know if there are other words (especially single words, not multiple) that appreciate the values I'm trying to give the scale.

Because I'm not a native English speaker, I want to know if you feel like the option I present here are reasonable and if not what words you feel are better.

This is similar to a Likert scale which is used a lot for questionnaires. The words it often uses are: strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, strongly agree.

  • Perhaps you can use severe, instead of moderately severe, and extremely severe or critical instead of severe? Jul 22 '15 at 9:54
  • Ok, but then I'd get (e.g.): normal-slight-moderate-severe-extreme. I feel there's too much of a gap between moderate and severe. Do you feel the same?
    – Erik
    Jul 22 '15 at 10:02
  • I think this is going to end up just being opinion.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 22 '15 at 10:05
  • As often with language. I'm not a native speaker, so I want to know how others feel about the options I present and if you feel there are better ones. That is subjective in the first place.
    – Erik
    Jul 22 '15 at 10:07
  • In my opinion, it is fine. Also, if you make a quick Google search about "mild, moderate and severe", you will find many examples of them used to describe different degrees of severity when talking about diseases. I would say that, by adding "normal" and "extreme", you are just adding two additional levels, one at each end of the scale. What do you think? Jul 22 '15 at 10:19

I think that you can use something like this:

1) Normal
2) Minor
3) Moderate
4) Serious
5) Severe

In a similar way to the Abbreviated Injury Scale

  • Good idea to point to the AIS!
    – Stephie
    Jul 22 '15 at 10:31
  • A possible substitute for "serious": advanced
    – TRomano
    Jul 22 '15 at 11:35
  • I like your answer and I accept it. I've chosen normal, slight, moderate, severe, extreme. But I will discuss this your scale with my peers.
    – Erik
    Jul 22 '15 at 12:28

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