“What is Quality of Life?
In what different ways can we think about it?”
While continuously questioning the meaning of life through the millenniums, humans across cultures and periods identified living a ‘good life’ as the desirable goal (Kruger and Engelbrecht, 2010; Diener and Suh, 1997). Even if the elementary questions of happiness and life satisfaction were never at risk to lose their actuality, the attempt to develop valid techniques to measure quality of life (QoL) and the challenge to identify the relevant variables lead to further increasing significance of the topic among different scientific communities (Kruger and Engelbrecht, 2010; Felce, 1997). This essay will investigate the extent to which popular approaches of measuring are suitable to capture the multi-faceted nature of the concept and their ability to derive practical implications to improve QoL. Firstly, it illustrates the variety of ways to approach QoL while referring to the dimensions that are commonly emphasized. Secondly, it examines the validity of included variables through challenging their operationalisation and presumed objectivity. Finally, it critically discusses the possibility of using measurements as the base of improvement in case of QoL.
The nature of the topic, as one that affects all of us in daily life, entails that everybody tends to have a personal definition of QoL (Freedman, 1978). Although a generally accepted definition is lacking, it is widely agreed that QoL is a broad ranging concept that embodies a multitude of variables related to subordinate dimensions like economy and living standard, health, safety, environment along with social and cultural needs like affiliation and education (Kruger and Engelbrecht, 2010; Diener and Suh, 1997; Felce, 1997; Nussbaum and Sen, 1993). In academia, the variety of ways to approach QoL is in particular clarified by the range of scientific backgrounds that are engaged in QoL research including primarily philosophy, psychology, medicine, economics, and the social sciences (Diener and Suh, 1997; Nussbaum and Sen, 1993). However, the lines between sciences and related topics should be understood as flexible and the dimensions itself as partly dependent. The example of ‘work-life-balance’, which is a factor of increasing influence on perceived QoL in highly developed countries (Kimura, 2016), could be used as an illustration. The topic is concerned in psychological and pedagogical, as well as economic research and is related to variables of the economic, psychological well-being and health dimension (Allen, 2005). The complexity of the concept of QoL is therefore demonstrated through both, the variety of related research areas and variables, and the range of available approaches to describe the concept.
However, it becomes necessary to reach a degree of agreement about included dimensions to measure, compare and derive practical implications to improve QoL, especially when operating in a multicultural...