Quality of life of individuals with spinal cord injury: a review of conceptualization, measurement, and research findings

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2005 May-Jun;42(3 Suppl 1):87-110. doi: 10.1682/jrrd.2004.08.0100.


Quality of life (QoL) is increasingly becoming a key concept in research and clinical services. However, no agreement exists on what QoL is and how it is to be measured. This paper reviews three different yet linked approaches to QoL conceptualization: QoL as subjective well-being; QoL as achievement; and QoL as utility. People with spinal cord injury (SCI) tend to report fewer feelings of well-being, on average, than nondisabled persons; score lower on physical, mental, and social health and in other domains of life that people consider important to life quality; and have a health state that is preferred much less than that of the average person. Many QoL instruments used in SCI research have not been validated for this group, or have questionable assumptions, and clinical applications of QoL measures still have many problems. Much SCI QoL research tends to be atheoretical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / psychology