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The Quality of Well-Being Scale (QWB) quantifies health-related quality of life with a single number that represents community-based preferences for combinations of symptom/problem complexes, mobility, physical activity, and social activity. The aim of this study was to compare preferences of a long-term care population with those of the general population, determine whether preferences vary by the age of the hypothetical (target) person depicted in the health-state case description, and derive weights for new symptom/problem complexes of particular relevance to frail, older individuals. A sample of 38 female and 12 male long-term care residents with an average age of 86 years was asked to rate health-state scenarios that combined the four health domains of the QWB. This sample rated quality of life 0.10 units lower on average (on a 0-1 scale) than did the general population sample from which the QWB preferences were originally developed. Ratings of the same health state for younger versus older target persons did not differ significantly (all p values > 0.05 for t statistics). Weights derived for 11 new symptom/problem complexes were: disturbed sleep (-0.252), sit-to-stand requires maximal effort (-0.259), lonely (-0.265), walking a short distance causes extreme fatigue (-0.273), agitated (-0.284), hallucinating (-0.355), incontinent (-0.359), unable to control one's behavior (-0.360), urinary catheter (-0.374), restrained in bed or chair (-0.374), and feeding tube through the nose or stomach (-0.402). These new weights increase the relevance of the QWB for cost-utility evaluations of health interventions for long-term care residents.

Originally published in: Medical Decision Making, v. 16, no. 3, July-September 1996, pp. 254-261.

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