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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Quality of life of people with mental health problems: a synthesis of qualitative research

Janice Connell1*, John Brazier2, Alicia O’Cathain1, Myfanwy Lloyd-Jones2 and Suzy Paisley3

Author Affiliations

1 Health Services Research, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

2 Health Economics, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

3 Information Resources, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2012, 10:138  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-138

Published: 22 November 2012

Abstract

Purpose

To identify the domains of quality of life important to people with mental health problems.

Method

A systematic review of qualitative research undertaken with people with mental health problems using a framework synthesis.

Results

We identified six domains: well-being and ill-being; control, autonomy and choice; self-perception; belonging; activity; and hope and hopelessness. Firstly, symptoms or ‘ill-being’ were an intrinsic aspect of quality of life for people with severe mental health problems. Additionally, a good quality of life was characterised by the feeling of being in control (particularly of distressing symptoms), autonomy and choice; a positive self-image; a sense of belonging; engagement in meaningful and enjoyable activities; and feelings of hope and optimism. Conversely, a poor quality life, often experienced by those with severe mental health difficulties, was characterized by feelings of distress; lack of control, choice and autonomy; low self-esteem and confidence; a sense of not being part of society; diminished activity; and a sense of hopelessness and demoralization.

Conclusions

Generic measures fail to address the complexity of quality of life measurement and the broad range of domains important to people with mental health problems.

Keywords:
Quality of life; Mental health; Well-being; Ill-being; Functioning; Outcomes