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Community Quality of Life

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Principal Investigators Dennis Raphael, Rebecca Renwick
Dates 1997-1998
Research Associates Lawrence Heights and South Riverdale Community Health Centres (CHCs)
The project was carried out with the assistance of the North York and Toronto Departments of Public Health, the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council, and the Canadian Mental Health Association National Office.
Community Collaborators The North York Community House and the Somaliland Women’s Organization.
Funded by Jessie Ball Dupont Religious, Charitable, and Educational Fund, Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. and the North York Community Health Promotion Research Unit
Additional support was provided by Druxy's and Pizza Pizza.


In 1996 and 1997, researchers with the Quality of Life Research Unit collaborated with the Toronto communities of Riverdale and Lawrence Heights, who wanted to undertake Quality of Life reviews in their neighbourhoods.

The project followed a community consultation process and was guided by an advisory committee of community representatives and health professionals.

A health promotion approach was elaborated for the project.

A Health Promotion Approach to Understanding Communities

Five principles guide the community quality of life approach. The approach adheres to World Health Organization concepts of health and health promotion. It also emphasizes the social determinants of health and well-being and uses a quality of life model to consider the effects of these determinants. The approach calls for a strong respect for the community and its members. And, it calls for seeing the world through their eyes and reporting it in their words.

To understand a community through the eyes of its members, specific methods are used. In group discussions and individual interviews, community residents, service providers and elected representatives are asked to consider aspects of their neighbourhoods and communities that either enhance or diminish their quality of life. The community portrait that emerges identifies strengths to be protected and community needs that should be addressed.

In brief, the steps involved in carrying out a community quality of life project include focusing and planning, carrying out data collection and analysis, and reporting and communicating results.

Finally, a community quality of life project is concerned with acting on findings and contributing to community action. Carrying out a community quality of life project is only the first step in working to improve the quality of life of community members.



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