Different meanings of quality of life: a comparison between what elderly persons and geriatric staff believe is of importance

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The principle aim of this study was to obtain a more complete understanding of quality of life (QoL) through exploring different factors affecting that concept among elderly persons and staff members, combining mixed methods for validation of QoL categories and themes, and enlightening the meanings through some quotes. Elderly persons (n = 207) as well as members of geriatric staff (n = 48) answered the open-ended question ‘what does quality of life mean to you?’. The elderly persons also answered questions on health, loneliness and social contacts. Descriptive statistics, Spearman rank correlation coefficient, content analysis and triangulation were used to evaluate the data. The findings revealed differences in the answers regarding what was considered most important for QoL. Staff members overestimated two of the categories, namely health and social network, while the elderly persons themselves emphasised being appreciated and living a good life. Staff members believed that elderly persons want to be seen, listened to and feel useful. The only category where staff members and elderly persons differed was ‘how to be treated’, where the elderly group did not find it as important as the staff members. Furthermore, elderly persons did not wish to be a burden to their family or society. In conclusion, elderly persons’s own viewpoint is highly significant in care planning.

Keywords: care planning; elderly persons; quality of life; staff

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1322-7114.2003.00414.x

Affiliations: 1: Senior Lecturer, Division for Health and Caring Sciences, Karlstad University, Karlstad, and Department of Neurotec, Centre for Gerontology and Health Economics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden 2: Associate Professor, Department of Neurotec, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Centre for Gerontology and Health Economics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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