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Assessing quality of life in older people: psychometric properties of the WHOQOL-BREF

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The World Health Organization has developed a brief generic questionnaire to assess quality of life, the WHOQOL-BREF. It has been studied in diverse groups, but not specifically in older people. The purpose of this study was to analyze the psychometric properties of the French version of the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire in healthy older people and to compare the mean profiles of participants with the mean profile obtained in the international validation study of the WHOQOL-BREF. Of the total sample of 262 Swiss French speaking older participants, 122 completed a retest after 2 weeks. The WHOQOL-BREF items demonstrated high test–retest reliability and validity. The WHOQOL-BREF items were differentially related to physical and mental health measures (SF-12 components, morbidity, and depression), thereby demonstrating convergent and discriminant validity. Compared to the international validation sample of the WHOQOL-BREF, participants of the present study reported higher QOL on 22 of the 26 items. A comparison of item profiles between male and female participants revealed gender differences for two items only (social support and negative feelings). We conclude that the psychometric properties of the WHOQOL-BREF items in older adults are good. To consider the 24 specific facets that are assessed by the WHOQOL-BREF appropriately, we recommend using item profiles on the individual and the sample level.

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This study was funded by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) to the first and the fourth author, grant number 105311–101694.

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Correspondence to Nicole von Steinbüchel.

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von Steinbüchel, N., Lischetzke, T., Gurny, M. et al. Assessing quality of life in older people: psychometric properties of the WHOQOL-BREF. Eur J Ageing 3, 116–122 (2006).

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