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During the past 50 years, quality of life is a construct that many researchers have studied. Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants often claim to improve the quality of their clients' lives. Making note of references to quality of life in the occupational therapy literature, one could gather a list of hundreds of articles. However, in the occupational therapy context, the term quality of life rarely is defined. The words quality and life are easy enough to discern, but the meanings behind the words seem to vary with author. Sometimes, quality of life has been described in vague terms, such as well-being, or as the lack of something, such as the absence of disease or pain. In occupational therapy, quality-of-life improvements sometimes are equated to improvements in self-care or other functional skills. When working with older adults, the concept of quality of life becomes particularly problematic because society tends to promote the idea that quality of life decreases with age because people "suffer" from the consequences of aging. It is hoped that this article provides occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants with information that refutes these common societal perceptions and will assist practitioners in designing interventions that are even more data meaningful and more client centered.


Article originally published in Gerontology Special Interest Sections (SIS) Quarterly:
Robnett, R. (2002, March). Quality of life and aging: Exploring the "paradox of well-being." Gerontology Special Interest Section Quarterly, 25, 1-2, 4. Bethesda, MD: The American Occupational Therapy Association.

© AOTA; placed here with permission.



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