The impact of visual impairment on quality of life among older persons in rural northwest Thailand : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Worldwide, those who are visually impaired are found to be older, in poorer health and less well-off economically than those who are not. The majority live in developing countries with the highest proportion found in Southeast Asia. Visual impairment has been found to have an overwhelmingly negative impact on quality of life (QOL) among those so affected. Thus, the rate of visual impairment among older Thais living in rural areas of Northeast Thailand, the poorest and most rural region in the country, is expected to be high and QOL to be low.
This study examined the rate of visual impairment and its impact on QOL among a representative sample of older persons living in rural areas of Northeast Thailand along with other variables thought to impact QOL. As expected, a high rate of visual impairment was found in this area. Those who were visually impaired were found to be significantly older, worse off economically and to have lower overall perception of health than those who were not. As also expected, they were found to be worse-off on all of the measures of QOL assessed. However, when age, overall perception of health and economic status were controlled for, no differences on QOL were found between those who were visually impaired and those who were not. Visual impairment, therefore, was not found to have the overwhelmingly negative impact on QOL expected. This finding was unique to this study but not altogether surprising as the lifestyle of these participants was very different than that of those previously studied. Older Thais in rural areas primarily live in extended families with their care provided for by their children as a matter of respect. The assessment of other variables thought to impact QOL revealed that overall perception of health, physical health, psychological well-being, environment and intimacy were found to
make a unique contribution to variance in QOL among the sample as a whole. Recommendations to improve the environment, including economic conditions, and physical health for all were made as a means to improve QOL for those who were visually impaired as well.
Appendix C removed due to copyright restrictions: :Hirunwatthanakul, P., La Grow, S., Borman, B., Kanagasingam, Y. (2012), The impact of visual impairment on quality oflife among older persons in a rural area of northeast Thailand,
in R. Zabioli (Ed.) Thailand: economic, political and social issues (pp. 57-71) New York, Nova-Science Publishers.
Hirunwatthanakul, P., La Grow, S., Borman, B., Kanagasingam, Y. (2013), The impact of self-reported visual disability on quality of life among older persons in a rural area of
northeast Thailand: a follow-up study, International Journal of Social Science Studies, 1(1), 47-53.