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31-07-2017 | Review | Uitgave 12/2017 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 12/2017

Measuring quality of life in opioid-dependent people: a systematic review of assessment instruments

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 12/2017
Lisa Strada, Wouter Vanderplasschen, Angela Buchholz, Bernd Schulte, Ashley E. Muller, Uwe Verthein, Jens Reimer
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s11136-017-1674-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Opioid dependence is a chronic relapsing disorder. Despite increasing research on quality of life (QOL) in people with opioid dependence, little attention has been paid to the instruments used. This systematic review examines the suitability of QOL instruments for use in opioid-dependent populations and the instruments’ quality.


A systematic search was performed in the databases Medline, PsycInfo, The Cochrane Library, and CINAHL. Articles were eligible if they assessed QOL of opioid-dependent populations using a validated QOL instrument. Item content relevance to opioid-dependent people was evaluated by means of content analysis, and instrument properties were assessed using minimum standards for patient-reported outcome measures.


Eighty-nine articles were retrieved, yielding sixteen QOL instruments, of which ten were assessed in this review. Of the ten instruments, six were disease specific, but none for opioid dependence. Two instruments had good item content relevance. The conceptual and measurement model were described in seven instruments. Four instruments were developed with input from the respective target population. Eight instruments had low respondent and administrator burden. Psychometric properties were either not assessed in opioid-dependent populations or were inconclusive or moderate.


No instrument scored perfectly on both the content and properties. The limited suitability of instruments for opioid-dependent people hinders accurate and sensitive measurement of QOL in this population. Future research is in need of an opioid dependence-specific QOL instrument to measure the true impact of the disease on people’s lives and to evaluate treatment-related services.

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