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Quality of Life for People with Developmental Disabilities: Brief Results

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Ontario Wide Study

Some Brief Results

The Quality of Life Project – Cross-Sectional Study, assessed the quality of life of 504 randomly selected adults with developmental disabilities who are associated with service organizations in 23 areas across Ontario. Two perspectives, the person with disabilities and another person, measured the degree to which people are having good lives. A third perspective, the assessor, measured the degree to which the basic elements of a good life are in place (i.e., scores should be very high). Scores were placed on a scale of +10 to -10. A portion of this scale is shown in the figures. (Note: The -3.33 to +3.33 scale used in other Quality of Life projects was modified for this population because it was thought the -10 to +10 scale was easier to comprehend.)

Some factors associated with improved quality of life

  • living in community settings, rather than large congregate care settings
  • having verbal skills
  • having higher functional abilities
  • not seeing a psychiatrist or taking psychotropic medications
  • not having complex medical needs

Some factors associated with improved quality of life can be identified specifically for people who do, and who do not, have verbal communication skills. People with verbal communication skills and with improved quality of life are associated with:

  • not having a formal dual diagnosis

People without verbal communication skills and with improved quality of life are associated with:

  • having an occupational activity of some kind
  • not having marked behaviour problems
  • having leisure activities in the community
  • having community access
  • being more independent
  • making their own decisions
  • having opportunities available from which decisions can be made
  • having practical support from other people
  • having emotional support from other people

Some factors that do not appear to be related to improved quality of life, based on the information collected in the cross-sectional study include:

  • age
  • gender
  • physical disability
  • type of occupational activity
  • type of financial support
  • amount of service received for people who live in community settings

Quality of life is adequate, but not good, for people with developmental disabilities on the whole. There is considerable room for improvement.

Suggested uses of quality of life information

  • Aggregate information can describe the quality of life of groups of people
  • Individual information can be used for personal support planning to: increase enjoyment of aspects of life that are important, and increase personal control.


Quality of Life Research Unit
Department of Occupational Therapy
University of Toronto
160-500 University Ave
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1V7