Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 465–479 | Cite as

Starting from Scratch: The Development of the Adolescent Quality of Life-Mental Health Scale (AQOL-MHS)

  • Ligia ChavezEmail author
  • Karen Mir
  • Glorisa Canino
Original Paper


This article documents the initial development of a Spanish mental health quality of life (QOL) instrument based on the adolescents’ own assessment of important domains to their QOL. Using a grounded theory approach, we targeted five mental health disorders: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder. In-depth interviews (n = 40) and three focus groups (n = 20) were conducted and analyzed using qualitative methods to guide the development of items. A convenient sample of island Puerto Rican adolescents aged 12–18 was recruited from outpatient mental health clinics. Qualitative analysis revealed a total of 87 themes. They were distributed based on core QOL domains such as (1) Self, (2) Peers, (3) Family, (4) School, and (5) Environment. Items were written based on prevailing themes and using as closely as possible, words and phrases used by the adolescents to describe their views and perceptions of QOL. The goal for the AQOL-MHS is to pinpoint specific areas of health-related QOL for each psychiatric diagnostic group that will provide valuable information to assist both patients and providers set, define and evaluate adequate mental health treatment goals.


Quality of life Mental health Adolescents Qualitative analysis 



This study was supported by NICHD Research Grant #HD060888 funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. We acknowledge the support of Joel Manzano, Ph.D., Ruby Mercury, B.A., and Miguel Nieves, B.A. for their work and dedication to the project and Nyrma Ortiz, Ph.D. for her critical review of the manuscript. We would also like to thank the Pediatric Hospital, the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus and the APS Health Care Systems’ clinical staff for their valuable support with the recruitment of participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Sciences Research InstituteUniversity of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences CampusSan JuanUSA

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