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20 Years of Quality of Life Research
20 Years of Quality of Life Research
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Monika Bullinger, PhD
Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany


Keywords: assessment, future, history, Quality of Life


Twenty years of quality of life research is certainly an occasion to look back to the beginning of addressing quality of life in
medicine as well as looking ahead to the impact of this fascinating field of research and practice. And a 20-year anniversary is certainly a reason to congratulate the MAPI team on their consistent, continuous, and engaged work related to patient reported outcomes.

As one of the presidents involved in the foundation of the International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL), I would like to give a personal account of the history and the future (which certainly will be a subjective view).

Personally I remember the foundation of the Society for Quality of Life Research in Brussels on a warm day with many enthusiastic researchers and clinicians in the early ’90s. I also remember heated discussions about whether or not it was
possible to measure quality of life in a Scottish castle in the mid ’80s.

This debate was quite remarkable. The so-called theoreticians or philosophers insisted on the impossibility to measure quality of life without definition, while the pragmatists, who would not be searching for a nominal definition of quality of life, would be happy with a more modest operational definition. They found that this would make the quality of life concept more amenable to measurement.

Many months and years have passed since this early and quite impressive Scottish encounter. Certainly the pragmatists since
then have moved ahead, resulting in a great variety of psychometrically sound instruments to access generic and conditions specific health-related quality of life in adults, adolescents, and children as well as that of their caregivers.


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