What is Quality of Life (QOL) and how can it be measured?
Quality of Life (QOL) is a level of needs satisfaction. It is our ability to engage in enjoyable activities. It is how you feel about your well-being and your self-esteem. It is about finding meaning in life, and contentment.
Measuring QOL for individuals with aphasia and their partners can be assessed indirectly. The individual gives a report directly, but we can indirectly measure someone's quality of life by self-report from the individual with aphasia and their family members. We can also get partner reports from family and friends, and we can use a variety of instruments such as structured interview, questionnaires, scaled tools, and forced choice format.
Literature that addresses QOL emphasizes the importance of obtaining personal histories and inventories from the individual with a communication impairment and their partners. The Aphasia Needs Assessment by Drs. Garrett and Beukelman (1997, 2006) is a great example that can be downloaded from the AAC resources at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. It contains questions that can be adapted with visual supports for individuals who are more severely impaired. It can also be used as an inventory tool with communication partners.
Two specific references to QOL scales are the Stroke and Aphasia Quality-of-Life Scale – 39 (SAQOL; Hilari, et.al, 2003) and the ASHA Quality of Communication Life Scale (QCL; Paul, et.al, 2004).
Nancy Alarcon, MS, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS is a Principal Lecturer and Director of Clinical Education in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington, and is Director of the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic. Her areas of clinical expertise include clinical supervision education, adult neurologic communication disorders, and supported communication.