Social Indicators Research

, Volume 100, Issue 3, pp 415–433 | Cite as

Quality of Life as Medicine: Interventions that Induce Salutogenesis. A Review of the Literature

  • Søren VentegodtEmail author
  • Hatim A. Omar
  • Joav Merrick


This paper reviews the medical (salutogenic) effect of interventions that aim to improve quality of life. Review of studies where the global quality of life in chronically ill patients was improved independently of subjective and objective factors (like physical and mental health, yearly income, education, social network, self-esteem, sexual ability and problems or work). The methods used were subtypes of integrative medicine (non-drug CAM) like mind body medicine, body psychotherapy, clinical holistic medicine, consciousness-based medicine and sexology. In about 20 papers on QOL as medicine, in cancer, coronary heart disease, chronic pain, mental illness, sexual dysfunction, low self-esteem, low working ability and poor QOL, the most successful intervention strategy seems to be to create a maternal, infantile bonding induced by a combination of conversation therapy and bodywork. The papers examined the treatments of over 2,000 chronically ill or dysfunctional patients and more than 20 different types of health problems. Global QOL measured by SEQOL, QOL5, QOL1, self-rated physical health, self-rated mental health, self-rated sexual functioning, anorgasmia, genital pain, self-rated working ability, self-rated relation to self, well-being, life-satisfaction, happiness, fulfillment of needs, experience of temporal and spatial domains, expression of life’s potentials, and objective functioning. We found “QOL as medicine” able in the treatment of physical disorders and illnesses including chronic pain (Number Needed to Treat (NNT) = 1–3, Number Needed to Harm (NNH) > 500), in mental illness (NNT = 1–3, NNH > 500), in sexual dysfunctions (NNT = 1–2, NNH > 1,000), self-rated low working ability (NNT = 2, NNH > 500), and self-rated low QOL (NNT = 2, NNH > 2,000). We found that QOL improving interventions helped or cured 30–90% of the patients, typically within one year, independent of the type of health problem. “QOL as medicine” seems to be able in improving chronic mental, somatic and sexual health issues without side effects.


Quality of life Salutogenesis CAM Alternative medicine Evidence based non-drug medicine Holistic medicine Clinical medicine Healing Therapeutic touch Chronic disease Mental disorders Pain Cancer Coronary heart disease 



The Danish Quality of Life Survey, Quality of Life Research Center and The Research Clinic for Holistic Medicine, Copenhagen, was from 1987 till today supported by grants from the 1991 Pharmacy Foundation, the Goodwill-fonden, the JL-Foundation, E. Danielsen and Wife’s Foundation, Emmerick Meyer’s Trust, the Frimodt-Heineken Foundation, the Hede Nielsen Family Foundation, Petrus Andersens Fond, Wholesaler C.P. Frederiksens Study Trust, Else & Mogens Wedell-Wedellsborg’s Foundation and IMK Almene Fond. The research in quality of life and scientific complementary and holistic medicine was approved by the Copenhagen Scientific Ethical Committee under the numbers (KF)V. 100.1762-90, (KF)V. 100.2123/91, (KF)V. 01-502/93, (KF)V. 01-026/97, (KF)V. 01-162/97, (KF)V. 01-198/97, and further correspondence. We declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Søren Ventegodt
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Hatim A. Omar
    • 6
  • Joav Merrick
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
  1. 1.The Quality of Life Research CenterCopenhagen V.Denmark
  2. 2.Research Clinic for Holistic MedicineCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Nordic School of Holistic MedicineCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.Scandinavian Foundation for Holistic MedicineSandvikaNorway
  5. 5.Interuniversity CollegeGrazAustria
  6. 6.Kentucky Children’s HospitalUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  7. 7.National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Office of the Medical Director, Medical Services, Division for Mental RetardationMinistry of Social AffairsJerusalemIsrael
  8. 8.Interuniversity CollegeGrazAustria
  9. 9.Kentucky Children’s HospitalUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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