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February 11, 1998

Defining and Measuring Quality of Life in Medicine

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(6):429-431. doi:10.1001/jama.279.6.429

To the Editor.—Drs Leplége and Hunt 1assert that variability across cultures, between patients, and in the same patient over time makes efforts to define the term quality of lifeimpossible. It is an "idiosyncratic mystery." They conclude that physicians and health economists should avoid quality of life assessment. At the same time, the authors assert that quality of life is paramount to patients and is, indeed, the only concern of the patient who seeks medical care. The unwelcome conclusion is that outcomes—whether patients feel better and are able to do more, whether they are spared subsequent treatments, and whether they are glad they sought medical care—are not a part of medicine.

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