Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 417–428 | Cite as

Quality of Life as Perceived by Older Persons with Chronic Illness in Rural and Urban Shandong, China

  • Lydia W. Li
  • Elizabeth L. Essex
  • Yan Long


This qualitative study aimed to understand the meaning of quality of life to older persons with chronic illness in China, and to compare the perceptions of those living in rural and urban areas. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 older Chinese, half residing in urban and half in rural areas in Shandong province. Through an inductive coding and categorization process, the study identified two shared domains of quality of life: basic necessities and family wellness. Two additional domains, physical health and mood and spirit, were endorsed predominantly by urban residents. Entertainment and leisure comprised a quality of life domain for urban residents only. Cohort experience and cultural values likely played a role in shared beliefs about quality of life, whereas socioeconomic context may account for differences in rural and urban conceptions. An implication of the findings is that for older Chinese with chronic illness, developing and sustaining programs to meet basic needs is critical to quality of life.


Aging in China Subjective well-being Urban–rural Semi-structured interviews 



This study was supported by the Office of Vice President for Research, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. The authors thank the assistance provided by many individuals, including Yujie Sui, Lingzui Gao, Jiaan Zhang, Jin Li, Jin Bei, Min-Min Yeung, Siu-Ha Ho, and Karen Staller.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social WorkGovernors State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Center for Philanthropy and Civil SocietyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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