Quality of life measurements can be better targeted to opioid users
In a systematic review of all quality of life questionnaires used among opioid users in the last 25 years, researchers found out that the questionnaires were rarely adapted to this particular group.
Measuring quality of life
Quality of life (QoL) intends to capture how satisfied we are with lives in total, including material success and security, health, and social connections, while accounting for both cultural and individual differences in what we expect to achieve.
Recently, several researchers have hypothesized that some people with opioid use disorders, particularly those who use heroin and inject, may be surrounded by such unhealthy environments and face such significant stigma that different tools may be required to adequately measure their QoL.
More questions may need to be added that focus on shame, for example, and on contact with social and health services.
900 articles reviewed
To begin exploring this hypothesis, SERAF PhD student Ley Muller joined a group of international researchers led by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Addiction Research in Hamburg, Germany.
The research group conducted a systematic review and assessment of all QoL questionnaires administered to people with opioid use disorder in the past 25 years.
Out of the 900 articles reviewed, the group was able to extract questionnaires that were written in one of the co-authors’ native or professional languages of English, German, Dutch, or Italian.
Lacking either methodological rigor or input from users
It was encouraging that QoL is increasingly being measured and established as an important patient-reported outcome of substance use disorder treatment.
However, the questionnaires analyzed tended to either lack methodological assessment or quality, or were developed without any input from opioid users.
There were no questionnaires with strong methodological properties which also included users themselves in the questionnaire’s development.
More qualitative research
This analysis paves the way for qualitative research to uncover which aspects of their lives people with an opioid use disorder consider most important to their QoL. These aspects can in turn be used as treatment goals, to make treatment respective and responsive to patients’ needs.