Quality-of-life measurement in advanced cancer: assessing the individual

J Clin Oncol. 1999 Nov;17(11):3603-11. doi: 10.1200/JCO.1999.17.11.3603.


Purpose: Despite the increasing importance of assessing quality of life (QoL) in patients with advanced cancer, relatively little is known about individual patient's perceptions of the issues contributing to their QoL. The Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life (SEIQoL) and the shorter SEIQoL-Direct Weighting (SEIQoL-DW) assess individualized QoL using a semistructured interview technique. Here we report findings from the first administration of the SEIQoL and SEIQoL-DW to patients with advanced incurable cancer.

Patients and methods: QoL was assessed on a single occasion using the SEIQoL and SEIQoL-DW in 80 patients with advanced incurable cancer.

Results: All patients were able to complete the SEIQoL-DW, and 78% completed the SEIQoL. Of a possible score of 100, the median QoL global score was as follows: SEIQoL, 61 (range, 24 to 94); SEIQoL-DW, 60.5 (range, 6 to 95). Psychometric data for SEIQoL indicated very high levels of internal consistency (median r =.90) and internal validity (median R(2) = 0.88). Patients' judgments of their QoL were unique to the individual. Family concerns were almost universally rated as more important than health, the difference being significant when measured using the SEIQoL-DW (P =.002).

Conclusion: Patients with advanced incurable cancer were very good judges of their QoL, and many patients rated their QoL as good. Judgments were highly individual, with very high levels of consistency and validity. The primacy given to health in many QoL questionnaires may be questioned in this population. The implications of these findings are discussed with regard to clinical assessment and advance directives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / classification
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires