Objectives: To assess existing knowledge of quality of life (QOL) of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to make recommendations for methodologic and substantive research in this area.
Data sources: Published research on QOL of persons with TBI, identified from databases, ancestry search, and the author's files.
Study selection: Empirical, theoretical, and methodologic articles relevant to 5 areas: QOL as achievements, QOL as subjective well-being (SWB), QOL as utility, QOL experienced, and QOL measurement instruments applicable to TBI or specifically developed for people with this impairment.
Data extraction: Selection of QOL indicators, with focus on TBI versus non-TBI differences.
Data synthesis: Studies of QOL as achievements show that in almost all areas, people with TBI score lower than they did before injury and lower than comparisons groups. There are limited gaps in our knowledge in this area. Research into QOL as SWB shows that after TBI, people typically report, for example, somewhat lower life satisfaction and affect than do comparison groups, and that injury severity is not necessarily a predictor of SWB. There are almost no studies of QOL as utility of life after TBI.
Conclusions: Major research recommendations include: exploring the ability of TBI subjects to self-report; determining the salience of domains of life for this group; developing utility instruments that are sensitive to differences in deficits in cognition and other health and life domains; and doing qualitative studies that explore the experience of QOL.