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Both unamplified and amplified spontaneous emission was measured from a compressively-strained single quantum-well GaInP laser. By using a novel and self-consistent technique briefly described in the text, the data were used to systematically determine the gain-peak energy, quasi-Fermi level separation, intrinsic optical loss, absolute refractive index, and optical waveguide confinement factor and gain, including the dispersion of refractive index for a given current. During this process, there is no need for a knowledge of parameters that are difficult to experimentally check with enough accuracy. Furthermore, the effect of dispersion of the refractive index on the optical waveguide confinement factor is discussed