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Soc Sci Med. 2000 Aug;51(3):419-27.

Life quality vs the 'quality of life': assumptions underlying prospective quality of life instruments in health care planning.

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University of British Columbia, Department of Geography, Vancouver, Canada.


Quality of Life is a broad construct used in health planning, health economics, and medical decision-making. It is also a term that has a long currency in social and sociological literatures. This paper considers the assumptions underlying prospective QL instruments in an historical and contemporary context. It argues that as a tool in health planning and in clinical decision making life quality as a measurement has its origins in the early eugenics literature and the social policies that derived from it in first North America, the primary focus of this paper, and later in Europe. Reference to narrative and social literatures, as well as those involving coping and adaptation, are then used to critique the assumptions underlying this class of QL instruments. It concludes that to the degree now current prospective instruments reflect a purely physical perspective of "disease burden" irrespective of social conditions they create a context that works against life quality, and in some cases, the continuance of persons with physical differences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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