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Bringing an ecological perspective to quality of life research: Can empowerment theory explain variance in quality of life ratings?Charity Tabol
Quality of life (QOL) is an increasingly popular outcome measure in medical and mental health research. Studies of determinants of QOL have primarily focused on variables in the physiological and psychological realms. If quality of life is to remain a useful construct, it needs to be investigated within an ecological framework that attends to systemic and structural variables, and more models grounded in theory need to be developed and empirically tested. This project augments the existing QOL literature by expanding on previous attempts to bring environmental factors into the conceptualization of quality of life (defined as subjective satisfaction with life in a number of domains), and by proceeding within a coherent theoretical framework—that of empowerment theory (Rappaport, 1987; Zimmerman, Israel, Schulz, & Checkoway, 1992). Using structural equation modeling, hypothesized relationships among four empowerment variables (perception of personal control, critical awareness of the sociopolitical environment, community participation to achieve goals, and access to resources) and self-reported quality of life were tested within a sample of European adults (N=16,082) residing in fifteen European countries (respondents to the Eurobarometer 52.1 survey). Good overall fit was obtained with a revised version of the proposed structural equation model, but some latent variables contributed more to this fit than others. Each of the empowerment variables significantly predicted quality of life. A substantial proportion of variance in QOL was not explained by the empowerment variables, however. Implications of these findings, limitations of the study, and recommendations for future research are discussed.
Psychology; Empowerment; Quality of life; Rejection of mind and body; Satisfaction; Structural equation modeling; Variance; Clinical psychology; 0621:Psychology; 0622:Clinical psychology
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