The conceptual and operational definition of quality of life: a systematic review of the literature
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Quality of life (QOL) has been chosen as an outcome measure by various agencies of the United States federal government and has been employed to an increasing extent by healthcare researchers when evaluating various courses of treatment or health promotion interventions. In light of the increasing ubiquitousness of QOL, one can conclude there exists a commonly employed and accepted conceptual understanding of its meaning. A systematic review of the literature focusing on quality of life published between January 1990 and January 2004 was conducted in an effort to discover this definition. Based on inclusion and exclusion criteria outlined in the study, a population of 503 articles was identified for potential inclusion. From this population a random sample of 50 articles was selected for further review, with an emphasis placed on the conceptual and operational definitions of quality of life employed in the various studies. Twenty of the articles contained some conceptual discussion of quality of life and 38 contained some operational discussion. Although many articles contained some discussion of the term, little agreement with regard to its meaning and measurement was found. The only acknowledged fact in the majority of the articles concerns the subjective, multi-faceted nature of quality of life and its inherent measurement difficulties. As a result of this work, and because of this lack of cohesion in the understanding of the conceptual issues involved, the following conceptual definition has been proposed. Quality of life is a measure of an individual??s ability to function physically, emotionally and socially within his/her environment at a level consistent with his/her own expectations.
Church, Marvel Clark (2004). The conceptual and operational definition of quality of life: a systematic review of the literature. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from