Health-Related Quality of Life Among Youth in Residential Care
Methods: A sample of 229 adolescents (mean age = 17 years) living in a residential care setting completed a validated measure of HRQoL (PedsQLTM 4.0 Generic Scales). Mean-level scores for Total HRQoL, Physical HRQoL, and Psychosocial HRQoL were examined and compared to published HRQoL data for healthy and clinical samples. Demographic and psychotropic medication data for each youth were accessed from an electronic database maintained by the residential care program and used to examine correlates of HRQoL.
Results: Overall, youth in residential care reported lower HRQoL than youth in a healthy comparison sample; however, youth in residential care had higher HRQoL than those in a psychiatric disorders comparison sample. Younger age and female gender were associated with poorer HRQoL. Psychotropic medication prescriptions, particularly antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, were associated with poorer HRQoL.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings of this study have important clinical and research implications. Residential settings could assess HRQoL at intake using a well-validated measure and then use this information in developing tailored service plans focused on supporting areas of sub-optimal functioning. Regular follow-up assessments could then be used to evaluate progress with regard to HRQoL and make modifications in services as needed. The results also point to individual-level factors – age, gender, and medication status – that could help identify youth most in need of HRQoL-focused assessment and intervention. Such screening, intervention, and evaluation would be consistent with the emerging emphasis on promoting HRQoL among vulnerable populations, rather than merely focusing on symptom reduction.