Background: there is limited research examining the relative importance of aspects of quality of life (QOL) to older adults across cultures.
Objective: to examine the relative importance of 31 internationally agreed areas of QOL to older adults in 22 countries in relation to health status, age and level of economic development.
Design: a survey quota sampling design was used to collect cross-cultural data. This study reports a secondary analysis of WHOQOL-OLD pilot study, which was collected simultaneously in 22 centres.
Settings: a variety of community, primary, secondary and tertiary health care settings located in Australia, France, Switzerland, England, Scotland, USA, Israel, Spain, Japan, China (mainland and Hong Kong), Turkey, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Brazil and Uruguay.
Participants: the total sample contained 7,401 people over 60 years with a mean age of 73.1 years; 57.8% were women and 70.1% considered themselves ‘healthy’.
Results: there were significant differences in the importance given to various aspects of QOL for people living in medium and high-development countries. Culture explained 15.9% of the variance in the importance ratings of QOL. However, the interaction showed that cultural differences were reduced once health status, gender and age were taken into account. The importance of QOL to age bands in different cultures was not significantly affected by whether or not participants perceived themselves to be healthy.
Conclusion: understanding the self-reported importance of diverse aspects of QOL for different cultures and for healthy and less healthy people may assist national and international policy makers to decide on priorities for the development of programmes for the ageing population.