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Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2010;16(1):47-59. doi: 10.1002/ddrr.96.

Quality of life in individuals with spina bifida: a research update.

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College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Advanced Practice Nursing and Research Department, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.


Quality of life (QOL) is an important concept for individuals with chronic health conditions. Measuring and supporting QOL in children, adolescents, and adults with spina bifida (SB) may be especially unique given the broad range of complex health and rehabilitative challenges they encounter. This article provides a research update on (a) conceptual and methodological considerations in measuring QOL and a related construct, health-related quality of life (HRQOL); (b) the state of the science in QOL and HRQOL for individuals with SB; and (c) gaps in the evidence and implications for future research. A synthesis of the literature was limited by the use of 17 different QOL and HRQOL instruments to measure these constructs and notable weaknesses in the most frequently used condition-specific HRQOL instrument. However, a tentative pattern of lower scores on the physical domain of HRQOL measures in individuals with SB in comparison to peers emerged, while discrepancies in emotional, social, and school domains varied by study. Recommendations for future research include using a lifespan approach to expand QOL studies to older adults with SB and focusing on intervention research to prevent or treat decreased HRQOL.

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