Quality of Life Research

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 347–355 | Cite as

Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) domains most valued by urban IsiXhosa-speaking people

  • Jennifer Jelsma
  • Siviwe Mkoka
  • Seyi Ladele Amosun



The aim of the study was to investigate and identify aspects of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) that are most valued by IsiXhosa-speaking people resident in underresourced areas of Cape Town, South Africa.


Fifty-seven domains of HRQoL were identified as important through group discussions with IsiXhosa-speaking people. Participants randomly selected from the community (n = 601) and from individuals seeking medical attention at a local clinic (n = 102) graded the domains on a visual analogue scale (VAS) ranging from 0 for “not at all important” to 10 for “ very important”. The domains were then mapped to the categories of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health.


The domains regarded as being most important were Food availability [9.5, standard deviation (SD) = 1.52), Owning a brick house (9.4, SD = 1.57), Access to medical services (9.4, SD = 1.55) and Family safety (9.4, SD = 1.7). Having no bodily pain ranked 40th. Environmental Factors were valued significantly more than the other two categories, and those related to Body Functions were valued higher than domains in the category of Activity and Participation.

Discussion and conclusion

Despite being asked specifically to answer the questions in relation to their health status, the participants apparently did not differentiate between general quality of life (QoL) and specific HRQoL. It appears that members of an underresourced community regard socioeconomic and service delivery aspects of their lives as integral to their perceived state of health. It may be that it is not possible to separate out factors relating to general QoL from those specifically related to HRQoL in an underresourced population, and such populations might not be suitable for inclusion in certain clinical trials where an improvement in HRQoL is the required outcome. Alternatively, if an HRQoL instrument is to be used to monitor the impact of medical interventions, the inclusion of Environmental Factors should be considered.


Health-related quality of life Underresourced areas ICF framework Environmental Factors 



We thank S. Mgqwaki, N. Ndongeni and K. Sisusa for assistance in data collection, Prof. D. McIntyre for advice and the Medical Research Council of South Africa and the University of Cape Town for providing funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Jelsma
    • 1
  • Siviwe Mkoka
    • 1
  • Seyi Ladele Amosun
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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