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Psychology, in its essence, has the core objective of improving the quality of life of an individual. Quality of life has a common sense definition which amounts to happiness and lack of suffering. Through several qualitative and quantitative measures, psychology seeks to identify the factors that facilitate improving one's quality of life. However, developing a commonly agreed-upon definition of this concept has proven to be a daunting task.
What is Quality of Life?
Quality of life is a multidimensional concept comprising several identifiers that are supposed to indicate a person's level of well-being. There has been a continuous discourse on how researchers should define the quality of life as it is highly contingent upon differing factors. The construct of quality of life has shifted in meaning over the years as models of health have evolved. The latest comprehension of this term emerges out of the holistic biopsychosocial model. Research has debated the definition of QOL, and no precise definition has yet been agreed upon.
It is important to note that quality of life is often used interchangeably with other related concepts such as 'perceived health,' 'health status,' 'QOL,' and 'HRQOL.' There is great contesting on the components of quality of life, but a conclusion with which people agree is that quality of life comprises four domains as
Physical Health − Physical health is one of the most important domains of quality of life as it affects many aspects of an individual's daily life. Good physical health is crucial for both physical and mental well-being. It allows individuals to engage in activities they enjoy, pursues their passions and goals, and perform daily tasks easily. Physical health is also essential for maintaining social relationships and participating in community life.
Mental Health − Good mental health allows individuals to manage stress, form and maintain relationships, and positively contribute to their communities. On the other hand, poor mental health can lead to various problems, such as anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders, which can profoundly impact a person's life.
Social Health − Building and maintaining strong social connections are essential for social health. This includes spending time with family and friends, participating in community activities and events, and volunteering. These activities provide a sense of purpose and help individuals feel connected to their community. Maintaining strong relationships can also provide a support system in times of need and help to build resilience.
Functional Health − Functional health refers to an individual's ability to perform daily activities and essential tasks. Good functional health allows individuals to carry out tasks such as working, caring for themselves and others, and engaging in leisure activities with ease. On the other hand, poor functional health can limit an individual's ability to perform daily activities and negatively impact their overall quality of life.
Tools for Assessing Quality of Life
The following section discusses three quality-of-life scales developed by several institutions with extensive research in this field.
|Flanagan’s Quality of Life Scale||WHO QOL||McGuill’s QOL|
|Developed by John Flanagan in the 1980s||Developed by the World Health Organisation||Developed at McGuill University|
|28 item questionnaire||Different variations with differing lengths||29 item questionnaire|
|Simple and reliable||Comprehensive, encompasses environmental factors as well||Physical, psychological, and social well-being|
Flanagan’s The Quality of Life Scale
The Quality of Life Scale (QOLS) is a commonly used tool for evaluating an individual's overall satisfaction with their life. It was developed by John Flanagan in the 1980s and is designed to assess individuals' perceptions of their current quality of life. The QOLS consists of a self-report questionnaire with 28 items that ask individuals to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of their life, including their physical health, personal relationships, and a sense of purpose.
One of the strengths of the QOLS is its simplicity, making it easy to administer and score. Additionally, it is a reliable tool, with research demonstrating high levels of consistency in scores over time and across different populations.
The QOLS has been used in various settings, including healthcare, research, and education. It has also been used in clinical populations, such as individuals with chronic illnesses, to evaluate the impact of treatments on quality of life.
World Health Organisation QOL (WHOQOL)
The World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) assessment is widely used to evaluate an individual's overall quality of life. Developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHOQOL is a comprehensive questionnaire designed to assess an individual's physical, mental, and social well-being. It assesses an individual's satisfaction with various aspects of life, including physical health, environment, relationships, and independence level.
The WHOQOL questionnaire is designed to be culturally and linguistically appropriate for use in various countries and settings, making it a useful tool for evaluating the quality of life on a global scale. It covers various quality-of-life domains, including physical health, psychological well-being, social relationships, and environmental factors. The questionnaire also assesses individuals' perceptions of their health, independence level, and overall life satisfaction.
McGill's Quality of Life Questionnaire
The McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire (MQOL) is used to evaluate an individual's overall quality of life. It was developed by researchers at McGill University in Canada and is designed to assess an individual's subjective perceptions of their quality of life. The MQOL consists of 29 items that ask individuals to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of their life, including physical health, social relationships, and a sense of purpose.
The strength of MQOL is its comprehensive coverage of the quality of life domains, including physical, psychological, and social well-being. This allows for a complete understanding of an individual's overall quality of life and the potential impact of medical interventions or life events on their well-being.
International Measures to QOL Assessment
Human Development Index − The Human Development Index (HDI) is perhaps the most widely used international measure of development, combining measurements of life expectancy, education, and standard of living to quantify the possibilities accessible to individuals within a particular culture. The United Nations Development Programme employs the HDI in its Human Development Report.
World Happiness Report − This study, which was established by the United Nations and was recently published alongside the HDI, uses both objective and subjective metrics to evaluate nations based on happiness, which is seen as the ultimate consequence of a great quality of life. It derives the final score from Gallup polls, real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to lean on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and charity.
Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) − The Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) was established in the 1970s by sociologist Morris David Morris and is based on basic literacy, infant mortality, and life expectancy. Although not as complex as other measures, and now largely replaced by the Human Development Index, the PQLI is notable for Morris' attempt to present a "less fatalistic pessimistic picture" by focusing on three areas where the global quality of life was generally improving at the time, while ignoring gross national product and other potential indicators that were not improving.
The Happy Planet Index − The Happy Planet Index, created in 2006, is unusual among quality-of-life metrics in that it utilizes each country's ecological footprint as an indicator, in addition to typical determinants of well-being. As a result, European and North American countries have yet to dominate this metric. Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Colombia top the list for 2012.
Gross National Happiness − Bhutan's and the United Kingdom's governments utilize gross national happiness and other subjective happiness metrics. The Columbia University World Happiness Report is a meta-analysis of happiness worldwide that gives an overview of nations and grassroots activists that use GNH. In 2013, the OECD published guidance on subjective well-being measurements. Cities and towns in the United States utilize a GNH measure at the grassroots level.
The Social Progress Index − The Social Progress Index assesses how well nations meet their inhabitants' social and environmental demands. Fifty-two indicators in fundamental human needs, foundations of welfare, and opportunity demonstrate how nations compare. The index employs outcome measures when there is enough data or the closest plausible proxies.
Quality of Life (QOL) assessment is important for evaluating an individual's overall well-being and satisfaction with life. By identifying areas of strength and weakness, QOL assessment allows for targeted interventions to improve quality of life and overall well-being. While there are challenges to QOL assessment, including the subjective nature of quality of life, it remains a valuable tool for individuals, healthcare providers, and policymakers.
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