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Open Access Research

Psychometric properties of the World Health Organization quality of life assessment – brief in methadone patients: a validation study in northern Taiwan

Tiffany Szu-Ting Fu1, Yung-Change Tuan2, Muh-Yong Yen3, Wei-Hsin Wu4, Chun-Wei Huang5, Wei-Ti Chen6, Chiang-Shan R Li7 and Tony Szu-Hsien Lee1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Promotion and Health Education, National Taiwan Normal University, No. 162, He-ping East Road, Section 1, Taipei 10610, Taiwan

2 Department of Psychiatry, New Taipei City Hospital, No.198, Yingshi Rd., Banqiao Dist., New Taipei City 220, Taiwan

3 Department of Infection, Taipei City Hospital, Branch for Disease Control and Prevention, No 100 Kunming Street, Taipei 10844, Taiwan

4 Department of Psychiatry, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Keelung Hospital, No 268 Sin 2nd Rd, Keelung City 20148, Taiwan

5 Department of Psychiatry, Lotung Poh-Ai Hospital, 83 Nan Chang St., Lotung, Yilan 265, Taiwan

6 School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06519, USA

7 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, 34 Park Street, New Haven 06519, USA

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Harm Reduction Journal 2013, 10:37  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-10-37

Published: 10 December 2013



Quality of life (QOL) is an important outcome measure in the treatment of heroin addiction. The Taiwan version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life assessment (WHOQOL-BREF [TW]) has been developed and studied in various groups, but not specifically in a population of injection drug users. The aim of this study was to analyze the psychometric properties of the WHOQOL-BREF (TW) in a sample of injection drug users undergoing methadone maintenance treatment.


A total of 553 participants were interviewed and completed the instrument. Item-response distributions, internal consistency, corrected item-domain correlation, criterion-related validity, and construct validity through confirmatory factor analysis were evaluated.


The frequency distribution of the 4 domains of the WHOQOL-BREF (TW) showed no floor or ceiling effects. The instrument demonstrated adequate internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were higher than 0.7 across the 4 domains) and all items had acceptable correlation with the corresponding domain scores (r = 0.32-0.73). Correlations (p < 0.01) of the 4 domains with the 2 benchmark items assessing overall QOL and general health were supportive of criterion-related validity. Confirmatory factor analysis yielded marginal goodness-of-fit between the 4-domain model and the sample data.


The hypothesized WHOQOL-BREF measurement model was appropriate for the injection drug users after some adjustments. Despite different patterns found in the confirmatory factor analysis, the findings overall suggest that the WHOQOL-BREF (TW) is a reliable and valid measure of QOL among injection drug users and can be utilized in future treatment outcome studies. The factor structure provided by the study also helps to understand the QOL characteristics of the injection drug users in Taiwan. However, more research is needed to examine its test-retest reliability and sensitivity to changes due to treatment.

Methadone; Psychometrics; Quality of life; WHOQOL-BREF; Injection drug users; Taiwan