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16-06-2020 | Uitgave 11/2020 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 11/2020

Life satisfaction in persons with mental disorders

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 11/2020
Adrian Meule, Ulrich Voderholzer
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Life satisfaction refers to a cognitive and global evaluation of the quality of one’s life as a whole. The arguably most often used measure of life satisfaction is the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Persons with mental disorders generally report lower SWLS scores than healthy controls, yet there is a lack of studies that have compared different diagnostic groups, tested measurement invariance of the SWLS across these groups, and examined effects of treatment on life satisfaction.


Data of 9649 inpatients of seven diagnostic categories were analyzed: depressive episode, recurrent depressive disorder, phobic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma-related disorders, somatoform disorders, and eating disorders.


The one-factor structure of the SWLS was replicated and full measurement invariance was demonstrated across groups. Patients with trauma-related disorders reported the lowest life satisfaction. Life satisfaction significantly increased during treatment across all groups and these changes were moderately related to changes in depressive symptoms.


Results support the excellent psychometric properties of the SWLS. They also demonstrate that although persons with mental disorder generally report lower life satisfaction than persons without mental disorders, life satisfaction also varies considerably between different diagnostic groups. Finally, results show that life satisfaction increases during inpatient treatment, although at discharge most patients have rarely reached levels of life satisfaction reported in non-clinical samples.

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