Introduction and Aims: Quality of life (QOL) is increasingly recognised as an important treatment indicator in the alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector, particularly in treatment modalities providing ‘whole of life programmes’, such as residential rehabilitation. However, it is currently unclear how studies conducted in AOD residential rehabilitation settings have operationally defined and measured QOL. This study therefore aimed to determine current practices in defining and measuring the QOL of residential rehabilitation clients.
Design and Methods: A systematic review of studies examining the QOL of AOD residential rehabilitation clients was conducted. Potential studies published in English between 1990 and 2018 were identified through a search of electronic databases (e.g. PsycINFO and PubMed), search engines (Google Scholar) and article reference lists.
Results: The search identified a total of 1267 records, of which 16 met the inclusion criteria. Less than half of the included studies provided an operational definition of QOL. QOL was generally understood to be a subjective, multidimensional, client assessment construct. Twelve different instruments were used to assess QOL, of which two enabled clients to identify QOL dimensions important to themselves.
Discussion and Conclusions: QOL has been inconsistently measured in studies of AOD residential rehabilitation clients. As a result, the comparability and validity of research in this field may be weakened. There is a need to develop a consensual operational definition of QOL, including a core set of domains relevant to and endorsed by residential rehabilitation clients. Appropriate tools to measure client QOL need to be identified and disseminated.
- quality of life
- residential treatment
- systematic review