Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 111–127 | Cite as

A Comparison of Quality of Life Variables for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders and Students Without Disabilities

Original Paper


The importance of quality of life has been increasingly recognized in the field of special education. To date, however, there are no studies focusing exclusively on students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). This study examined quality of life differences between students with EBD and their nondisabled peers in four domains: (a) General quality of life; (b) Self; (c) Relationships; and (d) Environment. Additional analyses compared parent and adolescent ratings. Results indicated adolescents with EBD were significantly more dissatisfied with their quality of life in all domains than their non-EBD peers. No significant within group differences were found for gender or age; however, EBD students in self-contained schools rated self and environment significantly higher than their peers with EBD in public schools. Parents of adolescent with EBD rated their adolescent’s quality of life significantly lower than their adolescent did, while parents of non-EBD adolescents rated their adolescent’s quality of life as significantly higher than did their adolescents. This study has several implications for programming to improve the outcomes among this group of students.


Quality of life Emotional and behavioral disorders 



We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Drs. Sean Clarke and Grace Caskie to this research. Preparation of this manuscript was supported by grants H324Q020004 and H324C020033-04 from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). However, the opinions and positions are those of the authors and no endorsement by OSEP should be inferred.


  1. Ager, A. (2002). Quality of life’ assessment in critical context. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 15, 369–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bambara, L. M., & Knoster, T. P. (1998). Designing positive behavior support plans. Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation. (Innovations, No 13).Google Scholar
  3. Bradley, R., Henderson, K., & Monfore, D. A. (2004). A national perspective on children with emotional disorders. Behavior Disorders, 29, 211–223.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, R. (1997). Quality of life: Challenges and dilemmas. Developmental Disabilities Special Issue: Quality of Life, 5, 22–33.Google Scholar
  5. Bullis, M., & Cheney, D. (1999). Vocational and transition interventions for adolescents and young adults with emotional or behavioral disorders. Focus on Exceptional Children, 31, 1–24.Google Scholar
  6. Council for Exceptional Children (1993). CEC statement on inclusion. Reston, VA: Author.Google Scholar
  7. Cummins, R. A. (1991). The comprehensive quality of life scale – Intellectual Disabilities: An instrument under development. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 17, 259–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Edwards, T. C., Patrick, D. L., & Topolski, T. D. (2003). Quality of life of adolescents with perceived disabilities. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 28, 233–241.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Felce, D., & Perry, J. (1996). Assessment of quality of life. In R. L. Schalock (Ed.), Quality of life: Vol. 1 Conceptualization and measurement (pp. 63–72). Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.Google Scholar
  10. Ferguson, D. L. (1995). The real challenge of inclusion: Confessions of a “rabid inclusionist”. Phi Delta Kappan, 77, 281–287.Google Scholar
  11. Frank, A. R., Sitlington, P. L., & Carson, R. R. (1995). Young adults with behavioral disorders: A comparison with peers with mild disabilities. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 3, 156–164.Google Scholar
  12. Friend, M., & Bursuck, W. D. (1999). Including students with special needs. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  13. Glass, G. V., & Hopkins, K. D. (1996). Statistical Methods. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  14. Graham, P., Stevenson, J., & Flynn, D. (1997). A new measure of health-related quality of life for children: Preliminary findings. Psychology and Health, 12, 655–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greenbaum, P. E., Dedrick, R. F., Friedman, R. M., Kutash, K., Brown, E. C., Lardieri, S. P. (1996). National adolescent and child treatment study (NACTS): Outcomes for children with serious emotional and behavioral disturbance. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 4, 130–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hoare, P., & Russell, M. (1995). The quality of life of children with chronic epilepsy and their families: Preliminary findings with a new assessment measure. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 37, 689–696.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jolivette, K., Stichter, J. P., Nelson, M., Scott, T. M., & Liaupsin, C. J. (2000). Improving post-school outcomes for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. ERIC/OSEP Digest #E597.
  18. Kern, L., & Hilt-Panahon, A. (2006). Improving the classrooms of student with emotional and behavioral problems. Presented at the Council for Exceptional Children, Salt Lake City, UT.Google Scholar
  19. Lehman, A. F. (1988). A quality of life interview for the chronically mentally ill. Evaluation and Program Planning, 11, 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Meyer, L., & Janney, R. (1989). User-friendly measures of meaningful outcomes: Evaluating behavioral interventions. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 14, 263–270.Google Scholar
  21. National Mental Health Association (2004). Retrieved from the web September 20, 2004 from http://www.nmha.prg/children/index.cfm
  22. O’Boyle, C. A. (1997). Quality of life assessment: A paradigm shift in healthcare. The Irish Journal of Psychology, 18, 51–66.Google Scholar
  23. Patrick, D. L., Edwards, T. C., & Topolski, T. D. (2002). Adolescent quality of life, part II: Initial validation of a new instrument. Journal of Adolescence, 25, 287–300.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Quinn, K. (2004). School-based strategies for meeting the needs of socially and emotionally challenged children and youth. Retrieved from the web September 20, 2004 from
  25. Rosen, M., Simon, E. W., & McKinsey, L. (1995). Subjective measure of quality of life. Mental Retardation, 33, 31–34.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Schalock, R. L. (1996). Quality of life: Perspectives and issues (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.Google Scholar
  27. Topolski, T. D., Edwards, T. C., & Patrick, D. L. (2002). User’s manual and interpretation guide for the youth quality of life (YQOL) instruments. Seattle, WA: University of Washington, Department of Health Services.Google Scholar
  28. U.S. Department of Education (1998). Twentieth annual report to congress. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  29. Watson, S. M. R., & Keith, K. D. (2002). Comparing the quality of life of school-age children with and without disabilities. Mental Retardation, 40, 304–312.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wehmeyer, M. L., & Schalock, R. L. (2001). Self-determination and quality of life: Implications for special education services and supports. Focus on Exceptional Children, 33, 1–16.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education and Human ServicesLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA

Personalised recommendations