Deborah Fitzsimmons

Reader of Public Health And Policy Studies at Swansea University

Author of: What is quality of life?

Deborah has over 18 years of experience in the field of health outcomes research with particular focus on health-related quality of life (QOL) assessment and economic evaluation.  Deborah’s career began in cancer nursing, having completed her nursing degree in Cardiff she then undertook a PhD at the University of Southampton, focused on measuring QOL in patients with pancreatic disease whilst working as a research nurse.

Deborah then commenced a lectureship in cancer nursing, alongside developing her post-doctoral research career.

To focus on her family’s quality of life, Deborah returned to Wales in 2004 working at the Swansea Centre for Health Economics, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University.

Deborah has worked on a number of national and international projects as health economics/outcomes lead, usually as part of collaborative multi-disciplinary teams of clinicians, academics and service users; with a number of papers and book chapters published. Deborah’s current quality of life work focuses upon QOL assessment in older people with cancer, cachexia and developing symptom based questionnaires for use in clinical trials. Deborah was elected to the position of Chair, Module Development Committee and member of the Executive Committee, EORTC Quality of Life Group in 2012.

Summary: What is quality of life?

  • Quality of life (QoL) is an abstract concept with different philosophical, societal and health definitions.
  • Health-related QoL (HRQoL) focuses on aspects of an individual’s QoL within the context of illness and treatment. This can include areas such as physical, functional, social and emotional well-being.
  • HRQoL is a patient-reported outcome, usually measured with carefully designed and validated instruments such as paper-based questionnaires (instruments) or using touchscreen technologies.
  • These assessments are often incorporated into the evaluation of treatment efficacy in the context of clinical trials.
  • They can also be used in clinical practice to monitor the impact of disease and treatment, with increasing prominence in the evaluation of the quality of healthcare and in informing clinical and health services decision-making.