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14-12-2017 | Uitgave 5/2018 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 5/2018

Quality of life in a broader perspective: Does ASCOT reflect the capability approach?

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 5/2018
M. S. van Loon, K. M. van Leeuwen, R. W. J. G. Ostelo, J. E. Bosmans, G. A. M. Widdershoven



Economic evaluation of services and interventions in care services tends to focus on quality of life(QoL) based on health-related measures such as EQ5D, with a major focus on health and functioning. The Capability Approach (CA) provides an alternative framework for measuring QoL and challenges some of the conventional issues in the current practice of measurement of QoL. The Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit (ASCOT) aims to measure social care-related QoL in a broad sense. This article investigates whether and, if so, how the ASCOT addresses issues put on the agenda by the CA.


Literature analysis concerning theoretical assumptions and arguments of CA and ASCOT.


The Capability Approach (CA) puts three issues on the agenda regarding QoL. First, the focus of evaluation should not be on functioning, but on freedom of choice. Second, evaluation should be critical about adaptive preferences, which entail that people lower expectations in situations of limited possibilities. Third, evaluation should not only address health, but also other domains of life. Our analysis shows that freedom of choice is reflected in the response option ‘as I want’ in the ASCOT questionnaire. The problem of adaptive preferences is countered in the ASCOT by developing a standard based on preferences of the general population. Third, the ASCOT contains several domains of life.


We conclude that the CA and the ASCOT contribute to the discussion on QoL, and that the ASCOT operationalizes core assumptions of the CA, translating the issues raised by the CA in a practical way.

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