Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is a broad, multidimensional concept that refers to a synthesis of several health domains including the physical, psychological, and social domains, all of which are affected by individual experiences, expectations, beliefs, and perceptions. HRQOL also shares a well-established connection with contemporary disablement models, which enhances its utility for identifying individual experience, expectations, and values, which can also influence the way a person views his or her health status. However, the routine evaluation of HRQOL in clinical research and patient care in the field of sport rehabilitation remains limited. HRQOL has implications for both athletes who suffer sport-related injury (SRI) and those who care for them. The purpose of this article is to help clinicians and researchers understand HRQOL as a primary outcome in sport rehabilitation. First, the article provides a definition of HRQOL and explains its relationship to contemporary disablement models. Next, research demonstrating that HRQOL is sensitive to both athletic participation and to SRI in athletes at both secondary school and college levels is reviewed. Finally, several important clinical tools that can be used to measure HRQOL by both clinicians and clinical researchers are presented. Criteria to be used in selecting these tools are also presented.
The authors are with the Post-Professional Athletic Training Program, A.T. Still University, Mesa, AZ.