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Qual Life Res. 2010 Mar;19(2):253-91. doi: 10.1007/s11136-009-9569-9. Epub 2010 Jan 3.

Somatically ill persons' self-nominated quality of life domains: review of the literature and guidelines for future studies.

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Department of Medical Psychology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To review which domains somatically ill persons nominate as constituting their QoL. Specific objective is to examine whether the method of enquiry affect these domains.


We conducted two literature searches in the databases PubMed/Medline, CINAHL and Psychinfo for qualitative studies examining patients' self-defined QoL domains using (1) SEIQoL and (2) study-specific questions. For each database, two researchers independently assessed the eligibility of the retrieved abstracts and three researchers subsequently classified all QoL domains.


Thirty-six eligible papers were identified: 27 studies using the SEIQoL, and nine presenting data derived from study-specific questions. The influence of the method of enquiry on patients' self-nominated QoL domains appears limited: most domains were presented in both types of studies, albeit with different frequencies.


This review provides a comprehensive overview of somatically ill persons' self-nominated QoL domains. However, limitations inherent to reviewing qualitative studies (e.g., the varying level of abstraction of patients' self-defined QoL domains), limitations of the included studies and limitations inherent to the review process, hinder cross-study comparisons. Therefore, we provide guidelines to address shortcomings of qualitative reports amenable to improvement and to stimulate further improvement of conducting and reporting qualitative research aimed at exploring respondents' self-nominated QoL domains.

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