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Quality of Life Measurement and People with Intellectual Disabilities: a Reply to Cummins

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This paper continues an exchange concerning quality of life measurement and people with intellectual disabilities. It addresses the continuing debate concerning three major issues: the utility of measuring subjective well-being in assessing service quality; the validity of quality of life as a construct; and the wider context within which quality of life assessment takes place. Evidence is presented to argue that subjective well-being should not be used to assess service quality, as it is a largely dispositional trait and measures of subjective well-being can only be reliably completed by a minority of people with intellectual disabilities. Some concerns are raised concerning the validity of current measures of quality of life, in terms of combining objective and subjective aspects of quality of life, summing quality of life domains, and the lack of investigation of the ‘psychological reality’ of quality of life as a construct. Finally, arguments concerning the potentially unfortunate consequences of adopting a quality of life approach within services are outlined. Such potentially unfortunate consequences are argued not to be caused by malignant motivations on the part of professionals, but to be the result of broader historical and professional processes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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