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Keywords:

  • comparative design;
  • general population;
  • health-related quality of life;
  • nursing home;
  • older;
  • SF-36

Aim.  To advance the understanding of health-related quality of life among older nursing home residents by assessing their health-related quality of life and comparing this with norms from the general population.

Methods.  The study used a two-group cross-sectional comparative design. The samples comprised 227 nursing home residents aged 65–102 years with at least six months’ residence and a representative population sample of 1137 Norwegian citizens aged 65–102 years. All nursing home residents had a Clinical Dementia Rating Scale score ≥0·5 and were capable of conversing. The respondents provided demographic information and were surveyed using the SF-36 Health Survey. We used univariate and multivariate linear models to identify possible differences in health-related quality of life between the nursing home residents and the general population, controlled for age, sex, marital status and education.

Results.  After adjustment for age, group, sex, marital status and education, the nursing home residents scored significantly higher on bodily pain and on physical and emotional role limitation and significantly lower on the other SF-36 subscales, except social functioning, with the largest differences for physical functioning (mean nursing home 23·2 and mean general population 62·9). The general population scores on all subscales generally increased with increasing education but not among the nursing home residents.

Conclusions.  The mean SF-36 scale scores differed markedly between the nursing home residents and the general population, with the nursing home residents generally scoring lower. The association with background variables known to be related to health-related quality of life differed between the groups. Healthcare professionals should increase attention to health-related quality of life among nursing home residents, periodically assess health-related quality of life and consider interventions that may improve health-related quality of life in older institutionalised populations.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This study highlights the role of nurses and other health professionals in ensuring that nursing home residents have opportunities to improve their health-related quality of life.