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17-03-2020 | Uitgave 7/2020

Quality of Life Research 7/2020

How do doctors perceive and use patient quality of life? Findings from focus group interviews with hospital doctors and general practitioners

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 7/2020
Pierre Caillault, Marianne Bourdon, Jean-Benoit Hardouin, Leïla Moret
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While studies on patients’ quality of life (QoL) are numerous, to date few have addressed the issue of what QoL means for doctors and how they use patient-reported QoL. This study aimed to explore how doctors define the concept of “patient QoL” and how they use QoL assessments in clinical practice.


Focus group (FG) interviews were conducted with French hospital doctors and general practitioners. Transcripts of the FGs were explored using inductive thematic and lexical analyses.


Twenty-one clinicians participated in four FGs. They all agreed that QoL was a subjective and unstable concept, different from that of health status. In practice, the assessment of patient QoL was conducted using an intuitive and non-structured approach. Most participants thought that it would give them more confidence in making decisions and provide better patient care. But it was also seen in some cases as putting them in an uncomfortable position. The assessment of QoL requires a favourable work and organizational setting.


Patient QoL provides useful data for clinicians. Yet assessments are made without standardized tools. The use of such tools could be very valuable for some practitioners or in some situations, and a real source of problems for others. These problems could, however, be easily overcome with experience-sharing and training clinicians.

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