The Short-Form Index of Care: An Introduction

The original Index of Care is a free, cloud-based instrument supporting bioarchaeology of care analysis. It provides a framework for interpreting evidence in human remains suggesting presence of disability and receipt of care, and for exploring the implications of this care for understanding past individual and collective behaviours.

Application of the bioarchaeology of care approach has grown steadily over the past decade, resulting in its integration into many undergraduate bioarchaeology courses. In this context, the Index – in theory - has the potential to be a valuable teaching tool. In practice, however, the Index was designed for professional bioarchaeologists, and even for specialists its use can be time-consuming and complicated.

To address the problem we have produced a ‘short form’ version of the Index of Care for use in the classroom. The Short-Form Index is intended for use by students working individually or in groups in a classroom or laboratory environment. It aims to give undergraduate students a hands-on introduction to the first stages of a bioarchaeology of care analysis, and it covers basic description of the subject; consideration of likely clinical and functional impacts of pathology(ies) identified; and assessment of probable need for caregiving. It provides an evidence base for student reflection on past disability experience and need for care. The Short-Form Index is currently in beta testing, and we are seeking collaborators in this process.

For a more complete introduction to the Short-Form Index project, please download the poster prepared for the PPA 2024 conference in March 2024, found on this page (POSTER - Short-Form Index - Teaching - March 2024.pdf) along with all other relevant materials.

For further information on this project, and to find out how you might become involved, please contact Alyson Caine at and/or Ihuixaya Tapia at



The following poster, presented at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Groupe d’Anthropologie et d’Archéologie Funéraire (GAAF 2018, Bordeaux), provides an introduction to and overview of the Index of Care. (See Sources.)

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