Quality of life is a frequently used phrase, but it lacks a precise and consistent definition. Researchers from the College of Nursing, University of South Carolina, Columbia, have addressed this issue and identified a new approach to evaluating quality of life that focuses on a person’s “connectedness” in several domains. This definition contrasts with the traditional medical model, which presumes that everyone possesses quality of life but it
diminishes over the years from disease, disability or
other negative conditions.

The study authors propose that a theory that views quality of life as something that can be created or lost over time provides a model that allows older adults to remain actively engaged in optimizing their quality of life over the years without constraints from events or conditions they cannot otherwise control. The researchers’ suggestion is that quality of life depends on experiencing connectedness in six interrelated domains:

  • The metaphysical domain includes self-esteem, self-
    determination, cognition, purpose, optimism and life satisfaction.
  • The spiritual domain includes prayer, worship, fellowship and meaning.
  • The biological domain involves functional capacity, physical comfort, health promotion and health maintenance.
  • The interpersonal domain includes social support,
    interpersonal dynamics and cultural dynamics.
  • The environmental domain includes socioeconomic status, transportation, assistive devices, safety and
  • The societal domain includes one’s personal social system and the global societal system.

What’s interesting is that once these domains have been identified, body-mind fitness professionals who work with older adults can consider ways to enhance each domain. This can be relevant when instructors consider strategies for incorporating more social interaction in classes or for supporting clients’ spiritual interests, in addition to improving physical health and well-being.

For more on the “Register” theory of Generative Quality of Life and a review of relevant literature, see Advances in Nursing Science (2006; 29 [4], 340–50).