Quality of life: The contested rhetoric of resource allocation and end-of-life decision making

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (6):651 – 664 (2004)
The term "quality of life" has a long history in the bioethics literature. It is usually used in one of two contexts: in resource allocation discussions in the hope of arriving at an objective measure of the worth of an intervention; and in end-of-life discussions as a concept that can justify the forgoing of life-sustaining treatment. In both contexts, the term has valid uses as it is meant to measure the efficacy of a treatment. However, the term has the unfortunate rhetorical problem that it often seems to be a judgment on the life of a human being. As such, it is highly inflammatory. We suggest that a return to a rhetoric that suggests a judgment on the treatment rather than the person is needed.
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