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Older People's Quality of Life (OPQOL) scores and adverse health outcomes at a one-year follow-up. A prospective cohort study on older outpatients living in the community in Italy

Claudio Bilotta12*, Ann Bowling3, Paola Nicolini14, Alessandra Casè1, Gloria Pina1, Silvia Veronica Rossi1 and Carlo Vergani14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

2 Geriatric Medicine Outpatient Service, Department of Urban Outpatient Services, Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento Hospital, Milan, Italy

3 Faculty of Health and Social Care, St George's Hospital, University of London and Kingston University, London, UK

4 Geriatric Medicine Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Cà Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2011, 9:72  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-9-72

Published: 5 September 2011



There is limited knowledge on the ability of a poor quality of life (QOL) and health-related QOL (HRQOL) to predict mortality and other adverse health events, independently of the frailty syndrome and other confounders, in older people living in the community and not selected on the basis of specific chronic conditions. Aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of the overall QOL and of the HRQOL to predict several adverse health outcomes at a one-year follow-up in an older outpatient population living in the community.


We carried out a prospective cohort study on 210 community-dwelling outpatients aged 65+ (mean age 81.2 yrs) consecutively referred to a geriatric clinic in Milan, Italy. At baseline participants underwent a comprehensive geriatric assessment including evaluation of overall QOL and HRQOL by means of the Older People's Quality of Life (OPQOL) questionnaire. At a one-year follow-up, between June and December 2010, we investigated nursing home placement and death in all 210 participants as well as any fall, any admission to the emergency department (ED), any hospitalisation and greater functional dependence among the subset of subjects still living at home.


One year after the visit 187 subjects were still living at home (89%) while 7 had been placed in a nursing home (3.3%) and 16 had died (7.7%). At multiple logistic regression analyses the lowest score-based quartile of the OPQOL total score at baseline was independently associated with a greater risk of any fall and any ED admission. Also, the lowest score-based quartile of the health-related OPQOL sub-score was associated with a greater risk of any fall as well as of nursing home placement (odds ratio [OR] 10.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.25-80.54, P = 0.030) and death (OR 4.23, 95% CI 1.06-16.81, P = 0.041). The correlation with the latter two health outcomes was found after correction for age, sex, education, income, living conditions, comorbidity, disability and the frailty syndrome.


In an older outpatient population in Italy the OPQOL total score and its health-related sub-score were independent predictors of several adverse health outcomes at one year. Notably, poor HRQOL predicted both nursing home placement and death even after correction for the frailty syndrome. These findings support and enhance the prognostic relevance of QOL measures.