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Quality of Life in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Reliability and Validity of Self-Reports

Shipman, Deborah L. MD*; Sheldrick, R. Christopher PhD; Perrin, Ellen C. MD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February-March 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 85-89
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e318203e558
Original Article

Purpose: This study examined the reliability and validity of self-reported quality of life (QoL) among adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) but without mental retardation (IQ >70) using a validated QoL measure, Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory. Secondarily, the self-reported QoL of adolescents with ASDs was compared with published normative data.

Methods: Thirty-nine adolescents with ASDs and their parents completed a QoL instrument and brief measures of psychosocial distress and self-esteem. A screening test of cognitive abilities was administered to adolescents; parents completed an assessment of behavioral and emotional symptoms and an assessment of the presence and extent of autistic social impairments.

Results: Adolescent self-reports of QoL demonstrated internal reliability and concurrent validity. Self-reports on the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory demonstrated moderate to large positive correlations with a measure of self-esteem and moderate to large negative correlations with measures of anxiety and mood. Concurrent validity with parent proxy reports fell within the range of expected values based on past studies of inter-rater reliability for QoL, with parents of adolescents reporting lower QoL when compared with adolescent reports. Adolescents reported QoL below the population mean for all domains.

Conclusions: Results of this study provide preliminary evidence that adolescents with ASDs are able to report on their own QoL in a valid and reliable manner. Based on our findings, the measurement of QoL may be useful for clinical care and research about adolescents with ASDs.

From the *Department of Pediatrics, Fallon Clinic, Worcester, MA; †Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Floating Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA.

Received May 2010; accepted September 2010.

Address for reprints: Deborah L. Shipman, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Fallon Clinic, 630 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.