1. First, list your current professional title. Second, describe your background, experience, and research as it relates to Quality-of-life studies. Feel free to describe this in detail.
Researcher and Lecturer at HOGENT, University of applied sciences and arts of Gent, in Belgium in the research collective EQUALITY and at the department of Special Needs Education.
I studied psychology at University of Padova in Italy. I could name myself as an expert by experience regarding the field of Quality of Life studies. My choice regarding places to live always kept in consideration the quality of life of local population. My student career brought me from the region of Venice and Spritz in norther Italy to the land of Porto at Universidade do Minho and dos Açores in Portugal where my interest for cross-cultural collaboration rose. When I came back I shifted my carrier from clinical to neuro clinical psychology bringing back an international research thesis regarding the perception and emotional reaction to pictures in children. This first study brought me in contact with my future filed of interest: disabilities and direct perceptions of life.
2. What initially attracted you to the field of quality-of-life studies?
This first research experience provided the opportunity to get contact with children with disabilities bringing me in the upcoming future to work in the field as a professional psychologist for a few years coordinating an educational program for professionals and a daycare center providing supports for persons with disability. Meanwhile, thanks to the assistantship to prof. Luigi Croce from Catholic University in Brescia, I got introduced to field of Quality of Life studies. My first passion for research brought me to try to investigate the importance of perception of Quality of Life from the experts by experience (users of the services I coordinated) and other stakeholders (family members, professionals and communities). I applied my research motivation writing a proposal in collaboration with a cooperative NGO (La Nuvola) to fund, start up and develop an outpatient clinic named “Bios” for children with autism providing evidence based interventions to improve their quality of life contextually: at the habilitation center, at school, at home and in the community. It still is my pride as it keeps providing services and treatments for free for more than 70 children and their families each year since 2012. The close contact with clients and professionals directed my career again to the academic world. I kept on collecting and bringing data to international conferences and writing regarding the quality of life outcomes of service provision for persons with disabilities receiving an award for the study: Factors predicting quality of life for people with intellectual disability: results from the ANFFAS study in Italy.
During international conference I got in contact with eminent academics from an expertise center regarding QOL located in Belgium (EQUAL) created by Claudia Claes who gave me the opportunity to begin my PhD in Ghent and my academic career. The main driver of my research has been how to improve the quality of services provided to people in socially vulnerable situation using a Quality of Life perspective.
3. What are some areas of quality-of-life studies you feel are lacking attention? Any advice for future QoL researchers?
I am convinced that this is the moment for Quality of Life implementation. A lot of research has been done regarding theory of quality of life providing a safe foundation for the field. Now further steps should take in consideration two major points: Implementation and Culturally valid measurement for different populations.
Regarding implementation use of QOL measures in everyday practices, designed procedures to integrate the available knowledge and data for service providers, professionals, functionaries and policy makers is a priority. I am convinced that at meso level practices including quality of life outcomes for stakeholders and the broader community will be an important step for quality management in organizations. I believe as well that at macro level measurement of policy outcomes in terms of Quality of life may become a prominent issue. Could you imagine evidence based policy measured on quality of life outcomes?
The second important aspect has to do with cross cultural perspectives on quality of life. At what extent the questionnaires designed are valid and accurate to grasp quality of life of a specific population? I am referring to population with specific support needs such as persons with mental health issues or brain injury or to population living in contexts that are different from the western ones. We have been largely collaborating with Mountains of the Moon University in Uganda and we have been validating instrument from and in different countries realizing that in those settings instruments designed for western cultures are hardly applicable. Never the less, as our students during the summer-school we early conduct in Fort Portal Uganda have learned, the concept of quality of life is important and vivid for the local communities
4. How long have you been a member of ISQOLS? Why did you choose to be a member of ISQOLS? How has your involvement in ISQOLS impacted your career/research/advancement in your knowledge of QoL studies?
I remember with great pleasure my first ISQOLS conference in Innsbruck. I participated with a group of colleagues and it provided a great opportunity for me to broaden my vision on the quality of life studies meeting with accademics from different fields. The multi-professional perspective in my very first ISQOLS conference has been overcoming to me as it was hard to understand such a broad offer of visions. Later on I learned that it was a great opportunity to get different insights regarding my research from colleagues with a different background and to test the applicability and relevance of my work in different fields. I found in ISQOLS a supportive community that yearly meets, very encouraging and friendly for new researchers. I deeply appreciated the time spent with other participants or with the executive director Jill Johnson reflecting about possible connection to other fields, developments to expand the reach of ISQOLS audience to low income countries and to disseminate innovative practices connecting with other academic associations.
5. Feel free to include any other important comments or things you'd like to share with the ISQOLS community.
I am looking forward to freely travel again to ISQOLS conference and to meet colleagues, reflect discuss and get back with my head full of new ideas, reflections and inspiration. If you are interested in broadening the QOL perspective to low income non wester countries I am looking forward to hear from you how to expand to a more cross-cultural or multi-cultural quality of life vision.
The International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies (ISQOLS)