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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2002 Dec;83(12 Suppl 2):S10-7.

Measuring quality of life in chronic illness: the functional assessment of chronic illness therapy measurement system.

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Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.


We focus on quality of life (QOL) measurement as applied to chronic illness. There are 2 major types of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) instruments-generic health status and targeted. Generic instruments offer the opportunity to compare results across patient and population cohorts, and some can provide normative or benchmark data from which to interpret results. Targeted instruments ask questions that focus more on the specific condition or treatment under study and, as a result, tend to be more responsive to clinically important changes than generic instruments. Each type of instrument has a place in the assessment of HRQOL in chronic illness, and consideration of the relative advantages and disadvantages of the 2 options best drives choice of instrument. The Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) system of HRQOL measurement is a hybrid of the 2 approaches. The FACIT system combines a core general measure with supplemental measures targeted toward specific diseases, conditions, or treatments. Thus, it capitalizes on the strengths of each type of measure. Recently, FACIT questionnaires were administered to a representative sample of the general population with results used to derive FACIT norms. These normative data can be used for benchmarking and to better understand changes in HRQOL that are often seen in clinical trials. Future directions in HRQOL assessment include test equating, item banking, and computerized adaptive testing.

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