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Open Access Correspondence

The need for education on health related-quality of life

Melanie J Calvert* and John R Skelton

Author Affiliations

Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham, UK

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BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:2  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-2

Published: 14 January 2008



Health-related quality of life is increasingly recognised as an important outcome measure that complements existing measures of clinical effectiveness. The education available on this subject for different healthcare professionals is varied. This article describes the design, implementation and evaluation of a Special Study Module on Health-Related Quality of Life for undergraduate medical students at the University of Birmingham.


The course involves 10 hours of "guided discovery learning" covering core concepts of Health-Related Quality of Life assessment including methodological considerations, use in clinical trials, routine practice and in health policy followed by self-directed learning. The taught components aim to provide students with the skills and knowledge to enable them to explore and evaluate the use of quality of life assessments in a particular patient group, or setting, through self-directed learning supported by tutorials.


The use of case studies, recent publications and research, and discussion with a research oncology nurse in task-based learning appeared to provide students with a stimulating environment in which to develop their ideas and was reflected in the diverse range of subjects chosen by students for self-directed study and the positive feedback on the module. Course evaluation and student assessment suggests that quality of life education appears to integrate well within the medical curriculum and allows students to develop and utilise skills of time-management and independent, self-directed learning that can be applied in any context.


We suggest that education and training initiatives in quality of life may improve the quality of studies, and help bridge the gap between research and clinical practice. Resources for curriculum development on health-related quality of life have been developed by the International Society for Quality of Life Research and may prove a useful tool to educators interested in this area.