Health and quality of life: How are they connected?

It doesn’t take a scientist to understand that our quality of life depends on how healthy we are. But it makes sense to dig deeper. What exactly is quality of life? And how does it relate to health? Let’s have a look – and find out how we can improve the way we feel about ourselves.

Let’s start with a simple question. How do you define health? Is it the absence of illnesses? Or is it something broader than that – something that also includes how we feel and how happy we are?

For a long time, being healthy was more or less defined from a negative perspective – focusing entirely on curing sickness. Only since the 1980s this perspective has started to change. More and more, we are looking at how we can treat patients with less impact on their overall wellbeing.

It’s all connected

We can ask the same question for quality of life, an even broader term that will always be seen very subjectively. Lots of factors define it, not just health – our work life, how and where we live, our social life, culture and many other aspects play a role.

In medicine, the question of how people’s mental and physical health is related to their overall life quality is researched under the term “Health-related Quality of Life” (HrQoL). This is an especially important topic when we look at the treatment of patients with chronic disease.

While we are looking for new ways of treating chronic disease, we are increasingly working on questions of HrQoL. We are not just looking at what can we do to improve the effectiveness of a treatment – but also at how we can reduce the physical and mental side effects. The result: an improved Health-related Quality of Life.

A big difference

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. This is a very important definition as it describes these three dimensions as equally important and inseparable.

This is a very important aspect of the treatment of chronic kidney disease. We know that the mental and social aspects need to be addressed as well. That’s why we offer the support of social workers and psychologists our clinics.

The concept of HrQoL lets us look at the treatment in a holistic way – to create treatments that don’t affect mental and social well-being in a negative way. And that is just what Fresenius is doing – working hard on innovations that keep the patient’s quality of life as high as possible.

The patient view

Knowing that quality of life and health are so closely related is a big help for every patient. We can do something about our physical well-being – with exercise and adequate nutrition. We can do something about our mental well-being – keeping our brain active and staying agile. And of course we can always take care of our social well-being. What works for people who don’t suffer from chronic diseases has even more impact for NephroCare patients. This is one of the main reasons we created NephroCare for me – to help you live a better life.

Measuring it

One way to look at health related quality of life is the individual view – the other is the broader one. As a company, we keep asking us: how high is it among our patients, and how does it compare to people without chronic kidney disease? How can we positively affect it? What works and what doesn’t?

That’s why we keep doing surveys, asking patients specific questions that don’t just check on their health status but also try to find out how they feel mentally, and how they are doing in general. Currently, we are developing a new survey called PROM (Patient Related Outcome Measures). It is based on the concept of HrQoL and will help us take another big step towards therapies that not only treat the disease but support our patients’ health-related quality of life as well.


Whether it’s the new PROM survey or another one – it’s not just good for us as a company and as professionals if you choose to participate – you are actually doing something to increase your own health-related quality of life. Why? Because we can take much better care of it as a result. So if one of our nurses approaches you about being part of a survey – remember, it’s good for you. Thank you!