Quality of Life (QoL) (A Complete Guide)

Quality of life refers to individuals or group’s perception about health, comfort and happiness.

As indicated by Rejeski and Mihkelko (2001) individuals that are contented with their life circumstances have better quality of life as compared to the individuals who are disappointed with their life. 

Quality of life is subject to the bliss and perceptions of the people’s life.

The most ideal method for approaching quality of life is to gauge the degree to which people groups necessities are met in ordinary life.

In this article, we will discuss definition, theories and scales of Quality of Life.

Kaplan (1985) defined quality of life the degree to which an individual is able to gain protection, respect toward oneself and the opportunity to utilize scholarly and physical abilities as a part of pursuit of individual objectives in quality of life.

The level of need fulfillment in the zones of life, for example, physical, mental, social and structural is the apparent quality of life.

 A person’s feeling of wellbeing that originates from fulfillment or disappointment in the regions of life that are crucial of his/her achievement or satisfaction of desire, a need, or a need.

This delight or fulfillment that is gotten from such satisfaction is the measure of quality of life.

The meanings of quality of life are separated into four noteworthy classes i.e. global definitions, component definitions, focused definition and component definitions. 

Taxonomy of Quality of life Definitions

Global Definitions

 Global definitions seem, by all accounts, to be the most widely recognized kind of meaning of the idea of quality of life.

They are comprehensive, but since of their sweeping statement they inform small regarding the conceivable segments of quality of life or how the idea could be operationalized.

They typically consolidate thoughts of satisfaction/dissatisfaction and happiness/unhappiness.

Component Definitions

 Component definitions are those definitions, which separate quality of life into a progression of segment parts or measurements, or distinguish certain attributes regarded key to any assessment of quality of life.

Ferrans and Powers (1985) recognized  subject’s supposition of own quality of life or life satisfaction, financial status, physical action, affect, perceived stress, relationships, family, marriage, accomplishment of life objectives, satisfaction with housing and neighborhood, satisfaction with city and country, satisfaction with self, depression, psychological defense mechanisms and coping.

Focused definitions

The third type is focused definitions. Either explicitly or implicitly these refers to only one segment, or a minority of parts, of QOL.

Farquhar (2008) discovered these to be most common in the literature relating to health and functional ability explicit  definitions, for instance, were discovered most generally in the health related QOL and concentrate on a small number of components considered crucial to QOL, Conversely implicit focused one or two components of the whole concept.

The fourth type is combination definitions, those that are global definitions (type I) but which also specify components (type II).

Essential ideas in Quality of Life Approach

According to Brown and Brown (2003) five ideas are essential in quality of life approach that are necessary to be understood.

Firstly quality of life entails things that are important to all human beings such as nutrition, health, social connections, housing and leisure and have the same importance to the people with or without disabilities and across all cultures.

Secondly, Quality of Life also has some personal meaning therefore it is important to look for personal meaning by viewing individuals own perspective.

This variability among individuals is fundamental to the concept of quality of life.

Thirdly, Individuals can judge specific aspects of their own lives. Some of the specific aspects of life that should be considered are: possessions, finances, social connections, beliefs, growth and learning, leisure, physical health, mental health, self-determination, social inclusion, and rights. To improve quality of life it is important to consider what one priorities and considers important to address.

Fourthly, aspects of quality of life are interrelated and effect each other’s domain. .

This interconnection sometimes seems to make aspects of quality of life complicated, but at other times it helps people make important overall judgments about their lives

 Lastly, quality of life is changing process; it changes from year to year and even from day to day.

Events occurring in an individual’s life change the quality of life of the person.

Therefore, you can use a quality of life questionnaire to measure/observe the changes your quality of life has over a period of time.

Theories of quality of life

Ferrans & powers theory of quality of life

Quality of life is defined as a person’s sense of well-being that stems from satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the significant aspects of an individual’s life.

By different aspects of life, it is inferred that this model takes into account the different value system, cultures and preferences of different people (Ferrans & Powers, 1996).

Ferrens developed a taxonomy of quality of life and described six categories of quality of life.

Normal life

Normal life is defined as the ability to maintain health and wellbeing or the absence of functional abilities, marital status and prolonged life .

Social utility

It refers to the individual’s ability to be useful to society and make important and useful contributions by being a productive component of the larger society.

Happiness/ effect

It focuses on the current emotional state of the individual and balance between positive feelings and negative feelings.

Satisfaction with Life

It is the trait of individuals who appraise their life as positive, healthy, and full of happiness and contentment.

Achievement of personal goals

Quality of life is expressed in terms of the discrepancy between individual’s actual life and desired life.

Achievement of personal goals is enhanced when the individual actually achieves what he desires.

Personal fulfillment, self-actualization and satisfaction is enhanced by achieving personal goals and it, further, enhances and strengthens quality of life

Natural capacity

Natural capacity includes normal, innate, actual and potential physical and psychological capabilities.

These capabilities include being able to have healthy social ties.

This concept of natural capacity has led to debates where the natural capacities such as the untreatable condition of the patient or the unhealthy genetic mutations of the unborn child lead the family or the practitioners to end the individual’s life .

Research unit of university of Toronto theory of Quality of Life

The University of Toronto (1975) defined quality of life as the ability of an individual to enjoy and benefit from various opportunities in life.

The major domains of quality of life identified in this research are being, belonging and becoming.

Integrative theory of Quality of Life

Integrative theory of quality of life describes the aspects such as wellbeing, satisfaction with life, happiness, meaning in life, the biological information system (balance), realizing life potential, fulfillment of needs and objective factors.

Wilson and Cleary model of Quality of Life

Wilson and Cleary model of Quality of life (1995) that states that there are four main determinants of overall quality of life: biological function, symptoms, functional status, and general health perceptions.

Quality of life scales

Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) determines how an individual sees his physical health and mental health over time.

In 2010, Vehadi stated that, Health-Related Quality of Life about perception.

This focuses on how an individual experiences himself in a particular position in his life keeping in view many things including their culture.

It may also be concerned with a person’s objectives, expectation and standards.

The concept of this scale is related to the physical health of a person, his mental state, independence level and their connections with the various components of his environment.

It can be used in population survey or in the measurement of health care services simultaneously being a useful resource for regulators for the assessment of latest technology.

Positive Psychology has its own quality of life scale (QOLS)

This scale can be administered by one own self and it can also be administered in an interview format.

The assessment process only takes five minutes to be completed and it this is generally administered through a seven points response scale.

The quality of life scale’s scoring is done by a very simple method. It is done by adding the score on each item. Score ranges from fifteen to 105.

The higher number or score indicates that quality of life is higher.

The average score on this scale of a healthier person is 90 and low score is around 15.

Quality of life Scale measures five domains of life;

·         Personal development and fulfillment.

·         Relationships with others

·         Social, community, and civic activities.

·         Recreation

·         Material and physical well-being.

All these above mentioned domains include personal safety, health safety, and financial security, sound relationship with parents, friends and siblings.

Intellectual development is also a part of ut along with personal understanding, socializing with others, recreational activities and personal expressions.


The World Health Organization also has a quality of life instrument called the WHOQOL-BREF, which is an abbreviated generic Quality of Life Scale developed through the World Health Organization.

The scale developed by World Health Organization includes four components:

·         Environmental health

·         Psychological health

·         Social relationships

·         Physical health

This scale also has general health items and quality of life.

The physical health part consists of things for example if a person is moving or what type of activities they perform.

Psychological realm includes things like negative thinking, attitudes, self-esteem and self-image.

The relationship domain focuses on things like interpersonal relationships and social support.

The area of environmental health covers the issues related to health and safety.

Quality of life Scale also measures pain which is helpful for those patients who are suffering from chronic pain and these people can talk to their health care provider about how this pain is adversely impacting their mental health.

If doctors know this information, it can be helpful for him in monitoring the improvements, deteriorations and complications which are related to the treatment of patients.


Quality of life has been a well researched topic in psychology to enhance well being of individuals.

The focus of economists has always been on increasing the financial status of individual’s to enhance the living standards but a good life cannot be fully achieved without subjective experiences such as cheerfulness and contentment and purpose in life.

Thus the concept of quality of life can be considered having both economical and psychological aspects that should be explored for better lives of human beings.

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FAQs about Quality of Life

1.      What is the concept of quality of life?

Quality of life is a broad term that includes positive and negative evaluation of one’s own life.

Evaluation of culture, belief system and value also constitute the part of this concept adding up to the complexity of this concept.

2.      What factors determine quality of life?

There are many factors that determine individual’s quality of life:

·         Financial conditions such as income and socioeconomic status

·         Physical and mental health

·         Education

·         Fulfillment of safety needs (Economical, social and physical)

·         Productivity

·         Social interactions

·         Basic Rights

More importantly it depends on the individual’s perception of all these factors.

There are individual differences in perception of magnitude of these to bring satisfaction.

3.      How one can increase quality of life?

Following are the ways that a person can use to have higher quality of life:

·         Meditation

·         To be in zone of engagement

·         To do something productive each day

·         To learn something new daily

·         Recognizing what makes a person happy

·         Spending time with a child



Ventegodt, S., Merrick, J., & Andersen, N. J. (2003). Quality of 

Kaplan, R. M. (1985). Quality of life measurement.

Ferrans, C., & Powers, M. (1985). Quality of Life Index: Development and psychometric properties.

Wilson, I. B., & Cleary, P. D. (1995). Linking clinical variables with health-related quality of life. A conceptual model of patient outcomes.

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