Subjective quality of life is now a common issue in psychological research and is often referred to as “subjective well-being” (Diener et al. In the 1980s, quality-of-life issues also began to appear in medical research with a focus on patient perceptions of their condition.
In psychology, the first quality-of-life studies were conducted as a part of research into “successful aging.” A typical book of this kind is Personal Adjustment in Old Age by Cavan et al. In the 1960s, the topic also appeared in studies of mental health, such as Americans View Their Mental Health: A Nationwide Interview Survey by Gurin, Veroff, and Feld (1960) and the groundbreaking crossnational study on The Pattern of Human Concerns by Cantril (1965).
Quality of life was soon seen as a relevant side effect of cure and as a major outcome of care.
Consequently, quality of life became one of the indicators in systematic research into the effects of drugs and treatment protocols.
The more choices are available, the more interested people become in quality-of-life issues and alternative ways of living.
Ideologically, this orientation is manifested in a revival of utilitarian moral philosophy, in which happiness is the central goal (Bentham 1789).
Quality of life became the main issue in the “social indicators research” that emerged in the 1960s as a reaction against the domination of economic indicators in the policy process.
In sociology, quality of life was often an implicit theme in sociographic studies, such as the portraits of rural life in the United States conducted by Ogburn (1946).
Much of this criticism was voiced by the patient organizations that developed around this time.
Health-related quality-of-life research was also furthered by the movement toward “evidence-based” treatment in healthcare that began to come into force during the 1980s.