Temporal changes in importance of quality of life domains: a longitudinal study in community-dwelling Swiss older people

Qual Life Res. 2019 Feb;28(2):421-428. doi: 10.1007/s11136-018-1983-4. Epub 2018 Sep 3.


Purpose: Population aging is a global phenomenon requiring interventions to improve quality of life (QoL), a subjective and dynamic concept. Such interventions should be based on QoL domains considered as important from older people's viewpoint. It is unclear whether and how much these domains may vary over time as people age. This study aims to assess the importance of QoL domains, their pattern and determinants of change among the non-institutionalized older population over a 5-year period.

Methods: This longitudinal study included community-dwelling older adults (N = 1947, aged 68-77 years at baseline) from the Lausanne cohort 65+. In 2011 and 2016, participants rated the importance of 28 QoL items in seven domains. The difference between scores (0-100) of importance attributed to each QoL domain between two assessments was calculated and used as a dependent variable to assess the associations with covariates in multivariable analysis for each domain.

Results: Importance scores slightly but significantly decreased in five of the seven QoL domains. Despite the majority of participants did not modify their ranking of importance for each QoL domain between the two time points, the proportion of change was still substantial. Bivariate and multivariable analyses showed that education and to a lesser extent age, living arrangement and morbidity, were associated with decrease in the importance of specific QoL domains; characteristics indicating vulnerability (e.g., low education or morbidity) were associated with a decline in the importance.

Conclusion: Although aging individuals modified the importance they give to the seven QoL domains, at population level, changes in opposite directions overall resulted in only small decline; importance seems less stable over time among individuals with vulnerable sociodemographic and health profiles.

Keywords: Importance; Longitudinal study; Older people; Quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Sweden