Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 45, Issue 10, pp 999–1009

Qualities of life, educational level and human development: an international investigation of health

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-009-0138-x

Cite this article as:
Skevington, S.M. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2010) 45: 999. doi:10.1007/s00127-009-0138-x


Introduction and methods

This study investigated the relationship between health-related quality of life (QoL), educational level and culture, using a high quality cross-cultural generic measure (WHOQOL-BREF) containing 25 international dimensions organised in physical, psychological, social and environmental domains.


Cross-cultural data from 9,404 sick and well adults in 13 countries showed that environmental QoL increased positively and sequentially from no education to tertiary education. The other three domains increased only up to secondary school level. These MANCOVA results were significantly influenced by health status, age, culture and economic development level. More positive feelings, less dependence on medication and treatment, better perceptions of financial resources, physical environment, and opportunities for information and skills, represent adult QoL advantages to those who received tertiary education compared with secondary schooling. Developing countries reported poorer environmental, psychological and physical QoL than developed countries, although social QoL was good, and no different for the two development bands. Only psychological QoL distinguished between every educational level, in developing countries. Increased positive feelings serve to link better mental health with more education. Across each domain, secondary and tertiary education was associated with better QoL in developing countries.


The results support a QoL case for universal secondary education on which better health and health care may be built.


Quality of lifeMental healthEducationWHOQOL-BrefCulture

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, WHO Centre for the Study of Quality of LifeUniversity of BathBathUK