Quality of life: patients and doctors don't always agree: a meta-analysis

J Clin Epidemiol. 2004 Jul;57(7):653-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2003.11.013.


Objective: In addition to traditional clinical markers, quality-of-life assessment can be helpful to estimate the well-being of patients. Discrepancies in perception of well-being between physicians and patients may interfere with the effectiveness of treatment. A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to explore the (dis-)agreement in quality-of-life assessments between patients and physicians.

Study design and setting: Data on the proportion agreement of paired observations were collected from Medline, Embase, Psychlit, and Social Abstracts.

Results: Of the 1,316 articles found, six met the selection criteria, four studied the proportion agreement between children and physicians, and all six the proportion agreement between parents and physicians. None examined the magnitude of over- or underestimation by physicians. The agreement was lower in the more subjective domains (0.54-0.77) in comparison to the more objective domains (0.79-0.94).

Conclusion: Quality-of-life assessment should be integrated in clinical practice. During long-term treatment the perception of the patients' well-being by physicians and patients themselves can easily diverge from each other, resulting in misunderstandings about the treatment and its usefulness in relation to perceived quality of life, and may even become the base for noncompliance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reproducibility of Results