The assessment of child and adolescent quality of life (QoL) is increasingly incorporated into practice and research within health and social care. However, little is known about the stability of the conceptualisation of QoL in the face of normative developmental processes against which to compare changes in response to non-normative events, such as chronic illness. The present study examined the stability of the QoL construct over 1 year in a cohort of healthy community-dwelling adolescents through applying the response shift (RS) model.
A cohort of 356 adolescents (M age = 14.05 years) completed the Kidscreen QoL measure on two occasions, 1 year apart. Both research-design and statistical techniques were employed to assess three types of RS: recalibration, reprioritisation and reconceptualisation.
A significant recalibration of small effect size was found for three QoL domains using a then-test, which was confirmed in the domain of autonomy through statistical modelling. No evidence was found for reprioritisation or reconceptualisation RS using either analytical approach.
The findings support the assumption that the conceptualisation of QoL is stable during adolescence in the absence of significant health threats. However, researchers and clinicians should be aware of potential recalibration effects of some life domains.