Expecting a good quality of life in health: Assessing people with diverse diseases and conditions using the WHOQOL-BREF

Suzanne M. Skevington, Farah M. Mccrate

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background and objectives Fulfilling patient expectations is central to defining a good quality of life (QoL) in health. The WHOQOL-BREF was developed using novel, person-centred methods and is a generic patient-reported outcomes measure (PROM). However, without robust psychometric performance, PROMs cannot be relied upon to assess individuals. This study investigated the WHOQOL-BREF (UK), with this use in mind. Design Cross sectional with nested repeated measures. Setting and participants Twenty-seven disease groups or health conditions and healthy people were recruited at 38 UK sites, in a wide range of settings (n=4628). Interventions 'Treatment as usual'; new and alternative interventions. Outcome measures WHOQOL-BREF (UK); SF-36. Results Respondent burden was low, as acceptability and feasibility were high. Internal consistency was excellent (0.92) and test-retest reliability good. Distinctive QoL profiles were found for diverse conditions. Musculoskeletal, psychiatric and cardiovascular patients reported the poorest QoL and also improved most during treatment. Overall, QoL was good, and best for healthy groups, supporting discriminant validity. Compared with the SF-36, WHOQOL physical and psychological domains showed good concurrent validity, although social was weak. Small or moderate effect sizes confirmed responsiveness to change in specified domains for certain conditions and interventions. Age had a small impact on reporting QoL. Discussion and conclusion The WHOQOL-BREF is found to be a high quality patient-centred generic tool suited to individual assessment in clinics, for research, and audit. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-62
    Number of pages13
    JournalHealth Expectations
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


    • Disease
    • Health
    • Patient-reported outcome measure
    • Psychometric
    • Quality of life


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