Quality of life is an important health outcome in its own right, representing the ultimate goal of all health interventions. This paper reviews the published, English-language literature on self-perceived quality of life among adults with diabetes. Quality of life is measured as physical and social functioning, and perceived physical and mental well-being. People with diabetes have a worse quality of life than people with no chronic illness, but a better quality of life than people with most other serious chronic diseases. Duration and type of diabetes are not consistently associated with quality of life. Intensive treatment does not impair quality of life, and having better glycemic control is associated with better quality of life. Complications of diabetes are the most important disease-specific determinant of quality of life. Numerous demographic and psychosocial factors influence quality of life and should be controlled when comparing subgroups. Studies of clinical and educational interventions suggest that improving patients' health status and perceived ability to control their disease results in improved quality of life. Methodologically, it is important to use multidimensional assessments of quality of life, and to include both generic and disease-specific measures. Quality of life measures should be used to guide and evaluate treatment interventions.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.