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Developing methods for assessing quality of life in different cultural settings

The history of the WHOQOL instruments

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This review traces the 12-year history of an international collaboration of researchers—the WHOQOL Group—who were brought together by the World Health Organisation to develop and produce a cross-cultural measure of quality of life for use in health and health care.


The theoretical and philosophical basis of the WHOQOL instrument is outlined as it evolved throughout the design and adjustment of a reflexive methodology that places an assessment of the users’ views at the centre of health care. The stages of research are further expanded and explained in recounting the scientific experience of this unique collaboration. The WHOQOL is available in 40 countries and most majority languages. Adaptations exist for assessing particular conditions, e. g. spirituality, religion and personal beliefs.

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Correspondence to Suzanne M. Skevington.

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1 The paper is based on data and experience obtained as part of the WHO study to develop a QoL measure (WHOQOL). The collaborators in this study have been at WHO Geneva: Dr. Norman Sartorius, Dr. J. Orley, Dr. Willem Kuyken and Dr. Mick Power. In the Field Research Centres collaborating investigators are Prof. Helen Herrman, Dr. H. Schofield and Ms B. Murphy, Univ. of Melbourne, Australia, Prof. Z. Metelko, Prof. S. Szabo and Mrs. M. Pibernik-Okanovic, Institute of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases and Dept. of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, Univ. of Zagreb, Croatia, Dr. N. Quemada and Dr. A. Caria, INSERM, Paris, France, Dr. S. Rajkumar and Mrs. Shuba Kumar, Madras Medical College, India, Dr. S. Saxena, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India, Dr. D. Baron and Dr. M. Amir, Ben Gurion Univ., Beer Sheeva Israel, Dr. Miyako Tazaki, Dept. of Science, Science Univ. of Tokyo, Japan and Dr. Ariko Noji, Dept. of Community Health Nursing, St. Luke’s College of Nursing, Japan, Dr. G. van Heck and Mrs. J. de Vries, Tilburg Univ., The Netherlands, Prof. J. Arroyo-Sucre and Prof. Pichard-Ami, Univ. of Panama, Panama, Prof. M. Kabanov, Dr. A. Lomachenkov, and Dr. G. Burkovsky, Bekhterev Psychoneurological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia, Dr. R. Lucas Carrasco, Barcelona, Spain, Dr. Yooth Bodharamik and Mr. Kitikorn Meesapya, Institute of Mental Health, Bangkok, Thailand, Dr. S. Skevington, Dept. of Psychology, Univ. of Bath, Bath, UK, Dr. D. Patrick, Ms M. Martin and Ms D. Wild, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, USA and Prof.W. Acuda and Dr. J. Mutambirwa, Univ. of Zimbabwe, Harare,Zimbabwe. An international panel of consultants includes: Dr. N. K. Aaronson, Dr. P. Bech, Dr. M. Bullinger, Dr. He-Nian Chen, Dr. J. Fox-Rushby, Dr. C. Moinpur and Dr. R. Rosser. Consultants who have advised WHO at various stages of the development of the project have included: Dr. D. Buesching, Dr. D. Bucquet, Dr. L. W. Chambers, Dr. B. Jambon, Dr. C. D. Jenkinson, Dr. D. De Leo, Dr. L. Fallowfield, Dr. P. Gerin, Dr. P. Graham, Dr. O. Gureje, Dr. K. Kalumba, Dr. Kerr-Corea, Dr. C. Mercier, Mr. J. Oliver, Dr. Y. H. Poortinga, Dr. R. Trotter and Dr. F. van Dam

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Skevington, S.M., Sartorius, N., Amir, M. et al. Developing methods for assessing quality of life in different cultural settings. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 39, 1–8 (2004).

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