The purpose of this volume is to describe concepts and methods concerning assessment of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in children and adolescents, with a special focus on chronic health conditions. The impetus for this book was a recognition of the increasing importance of HRQOL assessments in the evaluation of treatment outcomes of children and adolescents with chronic health conditions and the need to increase the utilization of HRQOL assessments in research and clinical applications with a range of pediatric populations. The need to develop a volume that describes new research and clinical applications concerning HRQOL in children and adolescents stemmed from several recent developments. There is a continuing need for evaluations of the efficacy of medical treatments for children and adolescents, including those with chronic health conditions. However, such evaluations are typically based on measures of physical and medical outcomes such as physical symptoms, physiologic changes, height, and weight. Although such outcomes are important, they do not assess child and family members' perceptions of the benefits of treatment, nor do they include clinically relevant assessments of children's sense of well-being. Measures of HRQOL provide a more comprehensive assessment of the child's response to medical treatment, prediction of outcome, and evaluation of illness course than can be obtained by assessment of medical outcomes alone. Consequently, investigators have increasingly recognized that evaluation of the outcomes of the effectiveness of medical treatments for children and adolescents with chronic health conditions can be enhanced by comprehensive assessment of HRQOL. Such recognition has been reflected in the increasing number of citations in the medical literature that have focused on HRQOL in children over the past few decades (see Schor, chapter 2, this volume).
Yet, despite increasing recognition of their importance, measures of HRQOL have not been widely utilized in empirical evaluations of the