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In 1999–2000, people with diabetes reported poorer quality of life than people without diabetes.

Why is this an important indicator for diabetes?

A person's quality of life includes their health and wellbeing across all physical, mental and social aspects.

This indicator compares the quality of life of people with diabetes with that of people without diabetes based on their responses to an in-depth survey (SF-36). The SF-36 is a survey form that produces an 8-scale health profile as well as quality of life related to an individual’s health status.

What are the results?

In 1999–2000, people with diabetes reported lower scores for quality of life than people without diabetes, across all eight dimensions of the survey (Figure 1). A lower SF-36 score indicates a lower quality of life.

The greatest differences were in 'general health perception' (people with diabetes were 12 points lower), 'physical functioning' (11 points lower), and 'role limitation due to physical problems' (9 points lower).

Figure 1: Quality of life scores for people with and without diabetes, 1999–2000

Indicators - Quality of life SF36

1. Directly age-standardised to the AusDiab study population.
2. All differences between the groups 'people with diabetes' and 'people without diabetes' are statistically significant.

Source: AIHW analysis of 1999–2000 AusDiab study.

What are the data sources?

There are two main data sources:

  • The 1999–2000 AusDiab Study, and
  • The 1995 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey (NHS).

How is this indicator calculated?

This indicator uses age-standardised mean scores for people with and without diabetes aged 25 years and over. The data are from the SF-36 questionnaire used in the 1999–2000 AusDiab study. The mean scores were calculated using the method given in the ABS 1995 National Health Survey (ABS 1997).

Are there any data limitations?

  • The AusDiab data used in this section are now over 10 years old and so may not reflect the quality of life of people with and without diabetes in Australia today.


Quality of life
Table 1 shows the dimensions of the quality of life, as defined in the SF-36 survey/tool.

Table 1: Dimensions of quality of life in the SF-36
Dimension Definition of lowest score (poor quality of life) Definition of highest score (good quality of life)
Physical functioning Very limited in performing all physical activities, including bathing or dressing Performs all types of physical activities including the most vigorous, without limitations due to health
Role physical Problems with work or other daily activities as a result of physical health No problems with work or other daily activities
Bodily pain Very severe and extremely limiting pain No pain or limitations because of pain
General health Evaluates personal health as poor and believes it is likely to get worse Evaluates personal health as excellent
Vitality Feels tired and worn out all of the time Feels full of pep and energy all of the time
Social functioning Extreme and frequent interference with normal social activities because of physical and emotional problems Performs normal social activities without interference because of physical or emotional problems
Role emotional Problems with work or other daily activities as a result of emotional problems No problems with work or other daily activities
Mental health Feelings of nervousness and depression all of the time Feels peaceful, happy, and calm all of the time

Source: Ware 2004.

Where can I find more information?

ABS 1997. National Health Survey, 1995: SF36 Population Norms, Australia. ABS Cat. No. 4399.0. Canberra: ABS.

AIHW 2007. National indicators for monitoring diabetes: report of the Diabetes Indicators Review Subcommittee of the National Diabetes Data Working Group. Diabetes series no. 6. Cat. no. CVD 38. Canberra: AIHW.

AIHW 2008. Diabetes: Australian facts 2008. Diabetes series no. 8. Cat. no. CVD 40. Canberra: AIHW.

Ware J 2004. SF-36 Health Survey Update. In: Maruish M (ed). The Use of Psychological Testing For Treatment Planning and Outcomes Assessment, Instrument for Adults, Third Edition. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 693-718.


Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (study)
National Health Survey