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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

Questioning the Questionnaire: Methodological Challenges in Measuring Subjective Quality of Life in Nursing Homes Using Cognitive Interviewing Techniques

New paper by Roger Meyer, Daniel Drewniak, Torsten Hovorka and Liane Schenk.


Although the concept of subjective quality of life in the nursing home setting is seen as a promising approach to discovering opportunities for improvement from the resident’s perspective, it appears problematic in classical surveys that self-reported quality ratings on the basis of satisfaction questions tend to turn out overly positive. The aim of this article is to analyze how people in residential care facilities interpret and process response stimuli received from a questionnaire on subjective quality of life. In this analysis, we aim to gain methodological insights into the way a survey instrument on subjective quality of life can adequately represent individual ratings, as well as expectations regarding different aspects of quality of life. To test the feasibility of the proposed approach, we employed a range of probing techniques from the cognitive interviewing approach. The result is a promising design principle for constructing survey instruments to measure subjective quality of life.