The Time-Oriented Quality of Life Scale (TOQLS) was developed to measure one’s present quality
of life in relationship to one’s desired future quality of life. The ten items were economics, housing, family
life, education, social life, neighborhood, transportation, desired career, mental health, and physical health.
The population for this study consisted of 12 elementary, 14 middle school, 13 high school, and 15 college students.
Results indicated that African Americans and Caucasians did not differ in reports of present or future quality
of life but that elementary students had a lower future quality compared to the other age groups. The racial differences
of quality of life are discussed.
Quality of life is defined by Myers (2008) as one’s perceptions of his/her environment and health. There
has not been extensive research conducted on racial differences in quality of life nor comparing quality of life
developmentally. The Time-Oriented Quality of Life Scale (TOQLS) was used to assess those perceptions and
racial differences that may exist among elementary, middle school, high school, and college students. It was hypothesized
that black students would have a lower quality of life when compared to white students. It was also hypothesized
that elementary students would perceive a higher future quality of life compared to college students.
Review of Literature
There has been much research on the assessment
of quality of life. Quality of life has been synonymously used as life satisfaction. Researchers Pavot & Diener
(1993) theorized that life satisfaction depends on a comparison of life circumstances to one’s standards.
Various standards or indicators could measure these circumstances. Furthermore, Borthwick-Duffy (2000) stated that
quality of life could relate to objective indicators and subjective indicators. Borthwick-Duffy defined objective
indicators as life conditions and subjective indicators as life satisfaction.
Objective indicators and subjective indicators were assessed by Skarupski’s study using the Health-Related
Quality of Life (HRQOL) scale. Purposefully, Skarupski (2007) assessed the racial differences of quality of life
using older adults who were age 65 and over. Participants had age-related chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s
disease. In this quality of life study, black (N=3,707) and white (N=2,279) participants’ self-reported by
using the HRQOL scale. Skarupski (2007) found that blacks had significantly lower HRQOL mean scores than whites.
Furthermore, female HQROL scores increased with age and were higher than males. His finding was “attributable
to the combined effects of social disadvantage, poor physical health, and lower cognitive function” (Skarupski,
2007, p. 293).
Research assessing middle schoolchildren quality of life between races was not significantly
different. However, Huebner et al. (2006) did not assess quality of life or life satisfaction in relation to health but
by other factors. The Andrew and Withey study (as cited in Huebner et. al., 2006) used the Brief-Multidimensional Students’ Life
Satisfaction Scale (BMSLSS)to measure students’ life satisfaction in five areas (for example: family life, friendship,
school experience, myself) on a 7-point scale. Huebner et al. (2006) used the BMSLSS on 1,290 white and 988 black six,
seventh, and eighth grade students. It was concluded that there was no significant effect on BMSLSS scores of gender and
race, although there was a significant effect on grade level; 6th graders reported higher BMSLSS scores than 8th grade
There are not many studies that address black and white
differences in measuring quality of life; nonetheless, there is research conducted on black Americans’ quality of
life. Gabbidon and Peterson (2006) created quality of life index and a living while black index using a comparative state
analysis of African Americans living in 50 states. The authors used a comparative state analysis from numbers of prisoners,
percentage of non-elderly who were uninsured, sales and receipts of African-American owned firms (in millions of dollars),
poverty levels, infant morality rates, and homicide deaths. The authors’ dependent variables to measure quality of
life included chronic drinking, mental health problems, suicide rates, and years of life lost before age 75. It was discovered
that “the economic (poor earnings for African-American-owned businesses and poverty rate) and death stressors (infant
mortality and death rates) were correlated with a negative quality of life for Black Americans” (Gabbidon & Peterson,
2006, p. 97). The authors surmised that the dependent variables to measure the quality of life might have contributed to
the negative quality of life. The two independent variables, numbers of prisoners and percentage of non-elderly, did not
correlate with quality of life for Black Americans (Gabbidon & Peterson, 2006).
Research conducted by Zullig et al. (2007) to evaluate
the life satisfaction of college students used the BMSLSS to determine life satisfaction. The authors used college students
(91 percent white) to conduct their study on life satisfaction in relationship to dieting behavior. The independent variables
consisted of self-described weight, the degree of worry over weight, binge eating behavior, the degree of worry over binge
eating behavior, duration of binge eating behavior, vomiting to get rid of food in the past year, and whether students
described themselves as having an eating disorder. The dependent variable life satisfaction was condensed into three levels:
dissatisfied, midrange, and satisfied. They concluded that “the majority of students reported at least midrange satisfaction
of life or greater (76.2 percent of females and 73 percent of males), while approximately 24 percent of females and 27
percent of males reported being dissatisfied with life” (Zullig et. al., 2007, p. 23).
Browne (2006) conducted a longitudinal study that examined
life satisfaction in relationship to the Big Five dimensions of personality and career decision status of black college
students (2006). Participants included three hundred and thirty-three undergraduates. The Career Decision Scale (CDS),
the NEO Personality Inventory - Revised (NEO PI-R), and a single item drawn from the Index of Well Being were used to measure
career decision status, personality traits, and life satisfaction, respectively. There was a positive relationship between
life satisfaction and career decision status; life satisfaction predicted career decision status. Nevertheless, there was
not a significant relationship between career decision status and personality (Browne, 2006).
The previous research only dealt with one’s present quality of life or life satisfaction. It also did not
compare different age groups (elementary, middle school, high school, and college). The Time-Oriented Quality
of Life Scale (TOQLS; Pomales, 2008) was designed to measure a person’s present quality of life in relationship
to one’s desired future quality of life. Quality of life was calculated by totaling one’s present quality
of life and one’s future quality of life.
Assessing students’ quality of life is important to determine the distance one is from his or her goals in
life. As students attending school, there should be quite a distance between student’s desired goals and
current progress. Specifically, the greater the distance students are from their goals the less satisfied, the
less the distance the more satisfied.
In the TOQLS, quality of life contains the following ten variables: economics, housing, family life, education,
social life, neighborhood, transportation, desired career, mental health, and physical health. These are all aspects
of life that makes one content. Particularly, quality of life is how well one is managing presently in life in
relationship to how well one desires to manage in the future.
The present study examined the black and white students and the present and future quality of life using the TOQLS
(Pomales, 2008). It was hypothesized that elementary, middle school, and high school students would have higher
mean scores for their future quality of life than college students. Piaget’s Concrete Operational Stage indicated
that children from ages 7 to 11 would not be able to think abstractly about the future. Piaget’s Formal Operational
Stage indicated that adolescents from age 11 to 16 would be able to think abstractly beyond the present. It was
also hypothesized that black students would have a lower quality of life compared to white students. Research by
Skarupski (2007) determined the blacks had a lower quality of life due to social disadvantages (poverty).
Participants were selected from previous or current schools attended by the researcher. Elementary and high school
students were selected from 4 midwestern small middle-class schools. Participants were 12 elementary students,
14 middle school, and 13 high school students. Fifteen college students were selected from Bowling Green State
University. All students were asked to participate in the study. A demographic questionnaire was given to assess
each student’s background. Items on the demographic questionnaire consisted of age, race, two-parent vs.
one parent home, and future aspirations. Four questionnaires were incomplete and were not used in the study. The
TOQLS assessed present and future quality of life. Present quality of life and future quality of life were totaled
for all ten items for each group. The midpoint was 40, which indicated that the student had an average present
or future quality of life. However, the mean and standard deviations were to be determined because this instrument
A one-way ANOVA calculated age differences in future quality of life (see figure 1). Elementary students scored
a mean of 5.30 with a standard deviation of 0.81, middle school students scored a mean of 6.27 with a standard
deviation of .37, high school students scored a mean of 5.96 with a standard deviation of .76, and college students
scored a mean 6.05 with a standard deviation .60 [f (3.50)= 5.32, p < .05]. Post Hoc Scheffe
was conducted on age differences in future quality of life. It showed a significant mean difference amongst elementary
and middle school students, p = .05. It also showed a significant mean difference between elementary and
college students, p= .39. There was not a significant mean difference between elementary and high school students,
p > .05. An independent samples t-test was used to test the hypothesis that black students had a lower present
quality of life compared to white students. African Americans on average scored 4.66 and Caucasians on average
scored 4.98 [t (52) = 2.1], p = 0.16].
Figure 1. Present and future quality of life mean scores of students.
Elementary, middle school, and high school students were expected to have higher mean scores compared to college
students for their future quality of life. It was expected that students would not be able to make decisions regarding
their future due to the fact that it was a non-tangible concept. This finding was contradictory to previous research
using the Brief-Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale, which found significance in middle
school students reporting life satisfaction. Also, Piaget’s concrete operational stage was not supported.
Children could think abstractly beyond the present. Specifically, elementary and middle school students were able
to think abstractly about the ten variables. This could suggest that younger children should not be underestimated
in the thought process. Racial differences with quality of life did not exist, which could be due to the fact that
race is not biological. This could help end common stereotypes. One stereotype that could be questioned is that
blacks are inferior to whites. Although there were no racial differences between all students regarding present
quality of life, a larger sample size was needed. There could be some racial differences in quality of life due
to one’s socio-economic status and other demographic variables. In future studies, one could focus more on
socio-economic questions such as mother and father’s income, whether or not the child works outside of school,
and others to determine whether a correlation with quality of life exists.
Borthwick-Duffy, S. A. (1992) Quality of life and quality of care in mental retardation. In L. Rowitz (ed).
Mental Retardation in the Year 2000. Berlin: Springer-Verlag (pp. 52-66).
Browne, J. M. (2005). Personality, life satisfaction, and career decision status: An examination
of factors that impact the career decisions of Black college students. Ph.D. dissertation,
Howard University. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from Dissertations & Theses: A&I database. (Publication
No. AAT 3184854).
Gabbidon, S. L., & Peterson, A. (2006). Living while Black: A State-Level Analysis of the
Influence of Select Social Stressors on the Quality of Life Among Black Americans. Journal
of Black Studies, 37(1), 83-102.
Huebner, E. S., Suldo, S. M., Valois, R. F., & Drane, J. W. (2006). The Brief Multidimensional
Students' Life Satisfaction Scale: Sex, race, and grade effects for applications
with Middle school students. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 1 (2),
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Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction With Life Scale. Psychological
Assessment, 5(2), 164-172.
Pomales, M. (2008). Time-Oriented Quality of Life Scale. Bowling Green, OH: BowlingGreen
State University, Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives.
Skarupski, K. A., de Leon, C. F. M., Bienias, J. L., Scherr, P. A., Zack, M. M., Moriarty, D.
G. et al. (2007). Black-white differences in health-related quality of life among older
adults. Quality of Life Research: An International Journal of Quality of Life Aspects
of Treatment, Care & Rehabilitation, 16(2), 287-296.
Zullig, K. J., Pun, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2007). Life satisfaction, dieting behavior, and weight
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This research was conducted with assistance from Takarra Dunning, Masters of Social Work, Western Michigan University.