Aims. To critique existing concept analyses of quality of life and develop a definition applicable for young people with chronic illness.
Background. Quality of life is a commonly used phrase but there is no universal definition. Five perspectives of quality of life have been proposed: sociological, economic, psychological, philosophical and ethical. However, health has emerged as an important but distinct perspective. The nursing profession has made a substantial contribution to the understanding of the interrelationship of health and quality of life.
Design. Literature review.
Methods. A search on electronic databases to April 2007 was made using the terms ‘quality of life’ and ‘concept analysis’. Papers were included in the review if they used a recognised method of concept analysis and were conducted by nurses. A new concept analysis was then performed specifically focusing on young people’s experiences of living with chronic illness.
Results. Eight concept analyses were identified, all of which had limitations. All the concept analyses were based on adult literature so did not take into consideration developmental changes, language level, or young people’s construction of health and illness. The new concept analysis found that young people living with chronic illness generally view themselves and their lives in the same way as their healthy peers. While their aspirations are often constrained by illness and treatment the relationship between illness and life cannot be seen in isolation of development.
Conclusion. Previous definitions of quality of life derived from concept analyses with adult populations do not adequately represent the experience of young people with chronic illnesses, but can be made more specific by incorporating important attributes such as developmental stage and the importance of peer group and family.
Relevance to clinical practice. The current analysis provides a clear definition of quality of life from the health perspective which is specific for use with young people with chronic illness to guide practice and research.