Social Indicators Research

, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 267–279 | Cite as

Quality of Life and Health-Related Quality of Life over 1 Year in Older Women: Monitoring Stability and Reliability of Measurement

  • Yvonne C. LearmonthEmail author
  • Elizabeth A. Alwick
  • Edward McAuley
  • Robert W. Motl


Assessing quality of life (QOL) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in older adults is important. Yet, limited research is available on the stability of these constructs and the psychometric properties of QOL [e.g., Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)] and HRQOL [e.g., Short-Form 12 Health Survey (SF-12)] measures in this population. Such knowledge is important for designing and interpreting interventions. We examined stability of QOL (SWLS) and HRQOL (SF-12) and their test–retest reliability, measurement error, and interpretability over 1 year in older Black and White women (n = 230). Stability and reliability were ascertained through paired sample t tests and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). Standard error of measurement and coefficient of variation assessed measurement error. Smallest detectable change estimated score interpretability. QOL and HRQOL remained stable; ICC values indicated moderate reliability for the SWLS and SF-12 (SWLS = 0.73, SF-12 Physical Composite Summary = 0.69, SF-12 Mental Composite Summary = 0.58). Measurement error and interpretability estimates were similar for both the SWLS and SF-12. Interpretability estimates indicated a change in score of around 33 % may represent an important change. We provide novel data for selecting and interpreting QOL and HRQOL measures contributing to a better understanding of intervention efficacy.


Clinical research Gerontology Measurement 



Quality of life


Health-related quality of life


Satisfaction with Life Scale


Short-Form 12 Health Survey


Physical Composite Summary


Mental Composite Summary


Intraclass correlation coefficient


Standard error of measurement


Coefficient of variation


Smallest detectable change



This research was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (R01 AG020118). The authors wish to thank all participants in this research and all staff and students involved in data collection and analysis.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne C. Learmonth
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth A. Alwick
    • 1
  • Edward McAuley
    • 1
  • Robert W. Motl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Kinesiology and Community HealthUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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