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


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.

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Fig. 1



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


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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.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Yvonne C. Learmonth.

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Learmonth, Y.C., Alwick, E.A., McAuley, E. et al. Quality of Life and Health-Related Quality of Life over 1 Year in Older Women: Monitoring Stability and Reliability of Measurement. Soc Indic Res 123, 267–279 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-014-0729-0

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  • Clinical research
  • Gerontology
  • Measurement