The University of Washington Quality of Life Scale

  • S. N. Rogers
  • D. Lowe


The need for validated head and neck specific cancer health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaires has long been recognised. One of the first to be published was the University of Washington quality of life scale (UW-QOL) in 1993. The current version 4 covers 12 domains - pain, appearance, activity, recreation, swallowing, chewing, speech, shoulder function, taste, saliva, mood and anxiety. Each question is scaled from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) according to the hierarchy of response. The UW-QOL also contains three global questions, one as a five-point Likert scale asking about HRQOL compared to the month before the cancer, and the other two as a six-point Likert scale, one asking about health-related and the other asking about overall quality of life during ‘the past 7 days’. It also has a question asking about the importance of domains and an option for free-text comment.

The lack of any copyright agreements and its simplicity in scoring makes using the UW-QOL questionnaire easy to use. It has been translated into numerous languages. The questionnaire has face and content validity and there is considerable evidence to support the construct validity of its domains. Our work indicates the UW-QOL to be sensitive to changes in patient characteristics and to changes over time. The identification of suitable cut-offs in domain scores adds to the interpretability of the UW-QOL in a routine clinic setting to help screen patients with particular problems. The UW-QOL displays stability in patients beyond one year from treatment and shows expected differences in regard to normative values. Factor analyses indicate that two composite scores – physical function and social function – are logical, each being a simple average of 6 domain scores. Further work is necessary to develop a better understanding of these composite scores, which have the potential of being used to assess clinical effect in treatment evaluation studies and to develop sample size calculations.


Composite Score Domain Score Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy Shoulder Function Emotional Function 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations:


Beck Depression Inventory


Centre for Epidemiology Studies Depression Scale


Derriford Appearance Scale


European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer




Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy


Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing


Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale


Health-Related Quality of Life


Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy


Liverpool Oraql Rehabilitation Questionnaire


M.D.Anderson Dysphagia Inventory


Neck Dissection Impairment Index


Shoulder Disability Questionnaire


medical outcomes study 36-item Short-Form health survey


Sickness Impact Profile


Swallowing Quality of Life measure


Therapy Outcome Measures


University of Washington Quality of Life scale


Visual Analogue Scale


Voice Handicap Index


Voice Related Quality of Life


Xerostomia- related Quality of Life Questionnaire


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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. N. Rogers
  • D. Lowe

There are no affiliations available

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