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What Is Quality Of Life?

Quality of life is used in two different—but related—contexts.

First, sociologists, psychologists, and human rights advocates sometimes use quality-of-life measures to assess the well-being of people in a neighborhood, region, or nation. These quality-of-life measures can provide helpful information about the functioning of legal, healthcare, and economic systems in a particular area. People studying the quality of life typically examine a wide variety of factors and assess the quality of life-based on a comparison to other regions. The United Nations uses the Human Development Index to measure the standard of living, life expectancy, education, and the life options open to people in a particular area. Other measures include the Physical Quality of Life Index and the Happy Planet Index.

Additionally, quality of life is also sometimes used in a particular context, particularly by healthcare providers. In this context, quality of life measures an individual’s well-being based on essential factors such as social relationships, physical health, autonomy, and emotional health. Several tools are designed to measure the

quality of life, including the CDC’s Healthy Day Measure and the Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life. More frequently, however, quality of life is a subjective assessment within healthcare. For example, a doctor might discuss prescribing pain medication to improve a person’s quality of life. When people feel that they have no quality of life, they might feel depressed and/or hopeless. Low quality of life is a common reason given for assisted suicide.


Health-related quality of life. (2012, November 01). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

Human development index. (n.d.). United Nations Human Development Reports. Retrieved from

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