Synthesizing Preliminary Normative Values for the Hong Kong Brief Version of World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale: A Review of Published Studies 1997 - 2014

  • Suk-ming Yeung Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong
  • Ann TY Shiu The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Keywords: Quality of life, Review literature, Measurements, WHOQOL-BREF-HK, Normative values


Objective.To synthesizepreliminary normative values from published data of the Hong Kong version of World Health OrganizationQuality of life scale–brief version (WHOQOL-BREF-HK) and to identify areas for nursing attention and further research.

Design. A literature review.

Data sources.The literature search was performed from January 1997 to December 2014. Keywords including WHOQOL-BREF-HK, Quality of life, Brief, Scale, and Hong Kong Chinese were used to search the following electronic data bases: Journals @ Ovid Full Text, EBM Reviews, EMBase, PsycInfo, DARE and Ovid Medline. In addition, hand searching of the reference lists of retrieved articles was performed. 

Review methods.Studies were selected when they adopted the WHOQOL-BREF-HK as a measurement. The scale has four domains. Studies with incomplete domain data were excluded. The WHOQOL-BREF-HK data were extracted from the selected studies by one of the authors independently and checked by the other author to ensure accuracy. The extracted data, presented in raw score, are considered as the preliminary normative values.

Results.The twenty-three studies selected for the review included 3,480 subjects(mean age ranged from 31 to 76 years). The preliminary normative values were displayed in atable to show the mean score of the four domains of the WHOQOL-BREF-HK of each study by subject classifications(subject characteristics, sample size, mean age, percentage of female subjects), and by three categories of people (well, sick andthose with specific life events). Our synthesis shows some interesting trends, including people with schizophrenia tend to have the poorest quality of life, and sick people after completinga course of treatment with a possible remission tend to achieve quality of life similar to well people. These trends deserve nursing attention and further research with a population-based sample. 

Conclusions.Given that population-based normative data for WHOQOL-BREF-HK are unavailable, the values presented in this study, although limited by not using methodological recommendations for normatization of quality of life instruments, offer a preliminary and helpful source for cross references for Chinese people living in Hong Kong. Ourfindings also provide pointers for further research, and help nurses to make better decisions in clinical practice.

Author Biographies

Suk-ming Yeung, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong
Registered nurse, Endoscopy Centre, Department of Surgery,Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong
Ann TY Shiu, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Retired, Formerly Associate Professor, The Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.


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How to Cite
Yeung, S.- ming, & Shiu, A. T. (2015). Synthesizing Preliminary Normative Values for the Hong Kong Brief Version of World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale: A Review of Published Studies 1997 - 2014. International Journal of Nursing, 4(1), 1-10. Retrieved from
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