The assessment of the validity and reliability of generic quality of life (QoL) instruments among elderly patient groups has tended to lag behind such assessments in general populations, yet it is an important methodological issue. This paper presents the findings from a study of the use of the EuroQoL among an elderly acute care patient group, focusing particularly on the ability to self-complete, construct validity and sensitivity to change. Two hundred and fourteen UK patients aged 65 years and over, participating in a randomized controlled trial comparing hospital at home and routine hospital care were asked to complete the EuroQoL and a number of other instruments at randomization and at 4 week and 3 month follow-ups. The inability to self-complete the EuroQol was found to be strongly related to both increased age and reduced cognitive function (p < 0.0001). From logistic regression, the expected probability of an acute care patient requiring interview administration at age 65 years is 11%, at age 75 years is 37% and at age 85 years is 73%. The relationships with age and limiting long-standing illness/disability were weaker than expected, but the results obtained from the EuroQoL were highly correlated with those from both the Barthel index and the COOP-WONCA charts where this was anticipated. Preliminary evidence of sensitivity to change was found from descriptive statistics of the changes in scores for four specific subgroups of patients, but the small numbers and high variability in each sub-sample means that this should be interpreted with caution. The most important issue arising from the research concerns the impact of age on the ability to self-complete the EuroQoL questionnaire. It is argued that this research points to the need for rigorous studies (such as randomized controlled trials) to assess the impact of the format of administration of the EuroQoL on the scores obtained.
Health-related quality of life health status EuroQoL elderly, patients.