5 Quality of Life Questionnaires and Assessments

Quality of Life QuestionnairesHow do you measure quality of life? The idea of quality of life (QOL) has been discussed in the psychological realm since the 1950s.

The Quality of Life Scale (QOLS) originated from John Flanagan, who was an American psychologist (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

The Quality of Life Scale measures things like satisfaction, perceptions of control, involvement, commitment, and work-life balance, in terms of one’s personal perception.

Quality of life also measures well-being in terms of your job or organization (Psychology, n.d.).

The concept of quality of life is very subjective to the extent to which one believes they are living a good life. Many things, including how someone perceives things or how they see the world, color this belief.

This article will offer a brief review of quality of life and what it means in the psychological context as well as offer links to helpful questionnaires and assessments.

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What Does Quality of Life Mean in the Context of Psychology?

Quality of life is a very abstract subject. It can be defined in many ways making both the definition and the measurement challenging.

To understand one’s quality of life, you must understand the conditions that influence one’s life. You must also understand someone’s values, and have some knowledge about how objective indicators might affect one’s experience of well-being.

In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on the impact of both physical and mental illness in terms of their impact on quality of life.

According to Skevington, (1999), the switch from measuring biomedical measures to measuring psychosocial issues has shown to play an integral role in ensuring a positive patient outcome from both the patient and the clinician’s perspective.

As part of this, there has also been an ongoing evaluation, in terms of quality of life, to move beyond the normal healthy individual to populations such as the elderly.

The idea of quality of life is undoubtedly a multidimensional concept, which emphasizes the self-perception of an individual’s current state of mind (Bonomi, Patrick, Bushnell, & Martin, 2000).

When measuring and examining quality of life, it’s essential to explore all domains, including social, environmental, psychological, and physical values.


In What Ways Can We Measure Quality of Life?

Your well-being depends on many things, including the circumstances of your life and how you view your life.

Positive psychology is concerned with the satisfaction you express when looking at the different realms of your life.

Your well-being is based on many things, including:

  • Mental and physical well-being.
  • Relationships with other people.
  • Social, community, and civic activities.
  • Personal development and fulfillment.
  • Recreation and fun.

The quality of life scale can measure any domain of life. It is a reliable and valid instrument for doing so. While there may be many different definitions as to what domains of life are important for any one individual, the QOL assessment can be done within any of these domains.


Quality of Life Definition

Quality of life is very subjective. Everyone measures it a bit differently. Some people may view their life as good if they have a sense of inner peace while others may not feel their life is good until they achieve some level of success.


A Look at the Reliability and Validity

According to Burckhardt & Anderson (2003) estimates from a study of 240 American patients with chronic illnesses indicated that the original quality of life satisfaction scale was consistent internally.

These same indicators also reported that the test had high reliability when it came to testing and re-testing when used with groups that had chronic illnesses.

Other researchers also concurred, reporting similar levels of reliability (Burckhardt & Anderson, 2003).

Burckhardt & Anderson (2003) also indicate that both convergent and discriminant construct validity of quality of life for those with chronic illness was also evidenced with high correlations between the QOL score and the Life Satisfaction Index.


The Quality of Life Questionnaire

There are over 1,000 instruments that are currently designed to measure the quality of life according to Ubel, Loewenstein and Jepson (2003).

The goal of the quality of life questionnaire is to assess one’s perceived satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the major domains of life.

Economists typically indicate that well-being can be inferred by simple observation. By observing the conditions in different domains of life, one can get a much better view of how satisfied or unsatisfied they may be within that realm.

The goal of this tool is to assess the client’s perceived satisfaction within different domains of life.

The tool is useful because it gives someone a place to start, especially if they are feeling a bit overwhelmed because the questionnaire can be done within any domain of life that needs focus.


McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire (MQOL)

The McGill quality of life questionnaire has been used extensively in palliative care research for those living with serious illnesses.

The McGill QOL questionnaire was first developed more than twenty years ago. It is a questionnaire that is relevant to all phases of disease, including diseases that may threaten someone’s life (Cohen, Strobel & Bui., n.d.).

This questionnaire is different in that:

  1. It measures the existential domain.
  2. The physical domain, although relevant, is not predominant.
  3. It measures positive contributions that pertain to quality of life.

A principal components analysis examines four subscales:

  1. Physical symptoms
  2. Psychological symptoms
  3. Outlook on life
  4. Meaningful existence

The McGill quality of life questionnaire is a good option for examining quality of life for those suffering from chronic disease.


Measuring Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL)

Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) gauges how someone perceives their health, both physical and mental, over time (Measuring Health-related quality of life, HRQoL, 2017).

Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) is really about perception. It’s about how someone views his or her position in life in the context of many things, including the culture in which they live. It might also have to do with someone’s goals, standards, or expectations (Vahedi, 2010).

It is a wide-ranging concept that pertains to one’s physical health, psychological state, their level of independence, social relationships, and their relationships to different features of their environment (Vahedi, 2010).

There are many reasons to measure health-related quality of life:

  1. Provides added value. Patients, as well as those in the healthcare industry, recognize the value that this type of tool adds.
  2. Provides useful information. This type of data can be used to screen and monitor patients for various healthcare practices.

This type of tool can also be used as part of a population survey or to measure healthcare services in addition to being a helpful tool for regulators in terms of assessing new technologies.

There are many domains related to health-related quality of life. Patients see things and perceive things quite differently. Measuring health-related quality of life typically requires the capturing of various dimensions on what is important to patients.

For example, someone may have the same response to a simple question day after day, but not take into consideration their level of independence, which may be improving, or their level of psychological health, which could be deteriorating.

A simple question may not reveal the depth of someone’s response as well, or allow the caregiver to distinguish between a severely depressed individual who may be very mobile, to a non-mobile patient who is emotionally much healthier.


3 More QOL Assessments

As mentioned, there are over 1,000 instruments that are currently designed to measure the quality of life; some of these instruments are more generic than others or are designed to measure specific diseases or pathologies.

The Positive Psychology toolkit has its own quality of life scale.

The QOL scale is typically self-administered; however, it can also be done via an interview format. The assessment can be done in as little as 5 minutes and is generally administered via a 7-point response scale.

The QOL scale is scored by simply adding the score on each item. The range of scores is between 15 to 105, with a higher score or number being indicative of a higher quality of life. An average total rating for a healthy person is usually around 90, whereas a low quality of life measures around 15.

Our particular QOL scale measures five life domains:

  1. Material and physical well-being.
  2. Relationships with others.
  3. Social, community, and civic activities.
  4. Personal development and fulfillment.
  5. Recreation.

These domains include things like financial security, health and personal safety, relationships with parents, siblings and friends and activities related to helping or encouraging others.

It also includes intellectual development, personal understanding, and even creativity and personal expression in addition to socializing and other recreational activities.

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 (Vahedi, 2010).

The World Health Organization scale is a well-known instrument when it comes to developing cross-cultural comparisons that have to do with quality of life. Moreover, it is available in more than 40 languages.

The WHOQOL-BREF is an instrument that consists of four domains:

  1. Physical health
  2. Psychological health
  3. Social relationships
  4. Environmental health

The instrument also contains quality of life and general health items.

The physical health domain includes things such as how mobile someone is or what kinds of activities they do every day.

The psychological domain measures things like negative thinking, self-image, self-esteem, and attitudes. (Vahedi, 2010).

The social relationship area looks at things like social support and personal relationships. The environmental health domain covers issues related to safety and health (Vahedi, 2010).

There is also a quality of life scale for pain, which can help those with chronic pain communicate with their health care provider on how that pain is affecting their life or mental health. Knowing this information can help the doctor monitor improvements, deterioration, and treatment-related complications (Khatri, n.d.).


A Take-Home Message

The quality of life scale was developed as a self-perceived measurement or scale. As we can see, it has been used not only to help someone measure how they perceive life, but also to help measure pain and help those with chronic illnesses get a much better idea of how those things affect their day-to-day life.

The quality of life scale is a valid instrument for providing a comprehensive measurement across multiple domains in life.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our 3 Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free.

If you wish to learn more, our Meaning and Valued Living Masterclass© will help you understand the science behind meaning and valued living, inspire you to connect to your values on a deeper level and make you an expert in fostering a sense of meaning in the lives of your clients, students or employees.


  • Bonomi, A. E., Patrick, D. L., Bushnell, D. M., & Martin, M. (2000). Validation of the United States’ version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) instrument. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 53, 1-12. doi:10.1016/S0895-4356(99)00123-7
  • Burckhardt, C. S., & Anderson, K. L. (2003). The Quality of Life Scale (QOLS): reliability, validity, and utilization. Health and quality of life outcomes, 1, 60. doi:10.1186/1477-7525-1-60
  • Cohen SR, Mount BM, Tomas JJ, Mount LF. Existential well-being is an important determinant of quality of life. Evidence from the McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire. Cancer. 1996; 77 (3): 576-86.
  • Cohen SR, Mount BM, Bruera E, Provost M, Rowe J, Tong K. Validity of the McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire in the palliative care setting: A multi-centre Canadian study demonstrating the importance of the existential domain. Palliat Med. 1997;11 (1):3-20.
  • Cohen, R., Strobel, M. G., & Bui. (n.d.). The McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire: A measure of quality of life appropriate for people with advanced disease. A preliminary study of validity and acceptability – S Robin Cohen, Balfour M Mount, Michael G Strobel, France
  • Bui, 1995. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/026921639500900306?ssource=mfc&rss=1&
  • Khatri, M., M.D. (n.d.). Quality of Life Scale for Pain. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/quality-of-life-scale-for-pain
  • Measuring Health-related quality of life (HRQoL). (2017, April 19). Retrieved from https://www.eupati.eu/health-technology-assessment/measuring-health-related-quality-life-hrqol/
  • Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/industrial-organizational-psychology/job-satisfaction/quality-of-work-life/
  • Skevington, S. M. (1999). Measuring quality of life in Britain: Introducing the WHOQOL-100. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 47(5), 449-459. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(99)00051-3
  • Ubel, P. A., Loewenstein, G., & Jepson, C. (2003). Whose quality of life? A commentary exploring discrepancies between health state evaluations of patients and the general public. Quality of Life Research, 12(6),599–607.
  • Vahedi, S. (2010). World Health Organization Quality-of-Life Scale (WHOQOL-BREF): Analyses of Their Item Response Theory Properties Based on the Graded Responses Model. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395923/

About the Author

Leslie Riopel, MSc., is Professor of Psychology at Northwood University. She writes on a wide range of topics at PositivePsychology.com and does research into mindfulness and meditation. Leslie’s unique blend of experiences in both real estate & psychology has allowed her to focus on fostering healthy workplaces that thrive.


  1. Susan L

    What classifies as high, low, and medium scores on the construct for Flanagan’s Quality of Life Scale?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Susan,

      That’s a tricky question! I’d suggest directing it to the corresponding author of the paper who may have some data on population norms, etc. You can find the contact address here.

      Good luck!

      – Nicole | Community Manager


    Good evening I am doing a study on “develop and validate QOL tool for children diagnosed with epilepsy”. Almost i collected data and tool is finalised. But I am confused about how to decide the range of scale like good qol and poor qol….Eg score 70 and above good Qol while score below 45 is poor qol

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Vipin,

      Thank you for your question. If you are designing a new scale from scratch, it may be difficult to identify what classifies as high, low, and medium scores on the construct. Likewise, you may need to compare scores against a baseline population (i.e., among children not diagnosed with epilepsy) to identify these values.

      Ultimately, there’s no universally agreed upon approach that I’m aware of. I’d have a read of this thread to get some ideas.

      Hope this helps!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  3. Piyush Deurkar

    Dear Ma’am,
    Could you suggest a me, specific instrument to measure the quality of life among general population in the pandemic.
    Thank you.

    • HS Dhaliwal

      Dear ma’am,
      We want to measure the mental QoL in patients being planned for endoscopy in this Covid pandemic. As you might know, endoscopy is a high risk procedure, as far as the spread of this virus is concerned for both the patients and the doctors.
      Can u please suggest which scale or tool to be used for this purpose??
      Thank you.

      • Nicole Celestine

        Hi HS and Piyush,
        There’s been a real explosion of research on the impacts of COVID-19, so I’d expect to see some scales coming out in research soon, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet. In the meantime, I’d check out this paper. These scholars have adapted quality of life indicators from a scale administered in the context of the SARS outbreak, which may help you (see ref. 12 in the article).
        Hope this helps!
        – Nicole | Community Manager

    • Rabbit

      No! sorry for the inconvenience

  4. savithri

    Could you suggest a specific instrument to assess the quality of life among health care workers Thank you

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Savithri,
      I would take a look at this paper by Teles et al. (2014) to see what scale they used in their study of primary healthcare workers. Perhaps then you can adapt it for your own research. Hope this helps!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

    • Lessoued

      Good evening
      Thank you for this very interesting and very explanatory article.
      my question for you: how can I integrate other variables such as the image of the body of women in the scale of quality of life.

      • Nicole Celestine

        Hi Lessoued,

        Rather than blending the items within scales (which is generally not recommended by scholars), I’d suggest administering a separate scale about body image. There is a body dissatisfaction subscale in the EDI-3 which is widely used and may be suitable for you needs. Alternatively, do a search for papers on the topic of body image in Google Scholar and see what scales they have used. 🙂

        Hope this helps!

        – Nicole | Community Manager

  5. David Stanley Mazengo

    I am a resident doing Mmed Obgy.l’m doing research on quality of life in pregnant women living with HIV who r are on treatments(ART).l’m using WHO QOL HIV BREF tool. But l want to access some variables which can also influence qol of preg women living with HIV who are on ART.those variable are economic status,parity,grvidity,seroststus of the spouse,alcohol,smoking.is there a questionnaire which can assess those variables? And how can I get it?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi David,
      My suggestion would be to do a search in Google Scholar for each of the individual variables you are interested in and search through papers to find the scales that past researchers have used (e.g., using terms like ‘economic status scale’). Finding scales like this can take some time but will allow you to explore the different possible options (as there will be many).
      Good luck!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  6. Herculene van Staden

    Good day
    I am part of a task team to determine the Quality of Life/burnout of occupational therapists (including students and academia) in South Africa.
    What is the best tool/questionnaire to use in this regard?
    Kind regards

  7. Moyal-Barracco

    What would be the best questionnaire to measure quality of life in postmenopausal women suffering from dyspareunia.
    Sexual questionnaire will be used, of course but I think it is worth considering adding a QOL questionnaire.
    All my best

  8. Jemerson

    Could you suggest a specific instrument on quality or life and self-image/concept/esteem that could be used for Asian culture. Thanks

    • Leslie Riopel

      Good afternoon,
      I did find a Chinese Quality of Life Assessment and a link to a PubMed article about it. The Chinese Quality of Life Instrument (ChQOL) is a self-reported health status instrument. To quote the article’s conclusion:
      “In conclusion, the study indicated that the ChQOL is conceptually valid with satisfactory psychometric properties. It can provide additional information on health and QOL on top of the existing generic health related QOL measures. Furthermore, it forms basis for further testing and applications in clinical trials.
      While that is not directly related to self-esteem per your question, I do think it would provide a good starting point for creating a self-esteem questionnaire.
      I hope that helps!


    Thank you very much for this article.
    Will you be sharing the tool for measuring QOL?
    With warmest regards,

    • Annelé Venter

      Hi Pauline
      Thank you for your response. The tool is part of our toolkit, as is more than 280 other tools. By purchasing the toolkit you will have access to this plus much more.

  10. Swati Suryawanshi

    Very useful ,really helping for understanding the importance of the life thanks a lot ma’am for sharing this content.


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