• Designed to address the concept of life satisfaction as a whole rather than to assess satisfaction with sub-dimensions of life (Diener et al. 1985).
  • Conceptually, the SWLS measures the ‘discrepancy or balance’ between one’s life achievements and expectations.

Clinical Considerations

  • The SWLS is generic, in that it holds no bias due to particular disability (e.g. SCI). It has adequate psychometric properties across various populations and scores can be compared between these populations.
  • One item on the questionnaire “if I could live my life over, I would change nothing” is potentially sensitive.

ICF Domain

Quality of Life


  • Participants respond to the items of the SWLS on a 7-point Likert scale, ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7).
  • Administration time is usually under 5 minutes.

Number of Items





  • A global score (5 – 35) is computed by summing the scores of each question.
  • No reports have been presented wherein the scores of a single question were used.


Available in multiple languages.

Training Required



Can be found here.

# of studies reporting psychometric properties: 7


MCID: not established in SCI
SEM: Standard error of item location for the SWLS items: (Geyh et al. 2010)

Item SE
SWLS 1 0.05
SWLS 2 0.05
SWLS 3 0.05
SWLS 4 0.06
SWLS 5 0.05

SEM for total SWLS (calculated from data in Dijkers et al. 1999): 4.67

MDC for total SWLS (calculated from data in Dijkers et al. 1999): 12.95

  • Scores represent a global perspective of life satisfaction.
  • Norms/profiles are not available for the SCI population
  • Published data for the SCI population is available for comparison (see Interpretability section of the Study Details sheet).


  • Internal consistency of the SWLS is High (Cronbach’s a = 0.83-0.92).
  • Test-retest reliability for the total SWLS is Moderate (r = 0.65) and for the individual items is Low to Moderate (r = 0.39-0.60).

(Dijkers 1999, Post et al. 2012, Geyh et al. 2010, Hitzig et al. 2012, Krause et al. 2009)


  • Correlation of the SWLS is High with the:
    • Assistive Technology Device Predisposition Assessment (Spearman’s r = 0.89)
    • Brief Symptom Inventory (Spearman’s r = -0.64)
    • Life Satisfaction Questionnaire (LISAT-9-11) (Spearman’s r = 0.60),
  • Correlation of the SWLS is Moderate with the:
    • Older Adult Health and Mood Questionnaire (Spearman’s r = -0.538)
    • Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (Spearman’s r = -0.477).

(Dijkers 1999, Scherer & Cushman 2001, Post et al. 2012, Richardson & Richardson 2008, Hitzig et al. 2012, Krause et al. 2009)


No values reported for the responsiveness of the SWLS for the SCI population.

Floor/Ceiling Effect

No values were reported for the presence of floor/ceiling effects in the SWLS for the SCI population.


Dr. Ben Mortenson, John Zhu, Matthew Querée

Date Last Updated

16 March 2017

Diener E, Emmons RA, Larsen RJ, Griffin S. The Satisfaction With Life Scale. J Pers Assess 1985 ;49:71-75.

Diener E. Understanding Scores on the Satisfaction with Life Scale [Internet]. University of Illinois Psychology Dept. 2006. Available from: http://internal.psychology.illinois.edu/~ediener/Documents/Understanding%20SWLS%20Scores.pdf

Dijkers MPJM. Correlates of Life Satisfaction Among Persons With Spinal Cord Injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1999;80:867-876.

Geyh S, Fellinghauer BAG, Kirchberger I, Post MWM. Cross-cultural validity of four quality of life scales in persons with spinal cord injury. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 2010; 8:94-109.

Hitzig SL, Romero Escobar EM, Noreau L, Craven BC. Validation of the Reintegration to Normal Living Index for community-dwelling persons with chronic spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2012;93:108-14.

Johnston MV, Diab ME, Kim SS, Kirshblum S. Health literacy, morbidity, and quality of life among individuals with spinal cord injury. J Spinal Cord Med. 2005;28(3):230-40.

Krause JS, Saunders LL, Reed KS, Coker J, Zhai Y, Johnson E. Comparison of the Patient Health Questionnaire and the Older Adult Health and Mood Questionnaire for self-reported depressive symptoms after spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation Psychology, 2009; 54(4): 440-448.

Pavot W, Diener E. Review of the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Psychol Assess 1993;5:164-172.

Post MW, van Leeuwen CM, van Koppenhagen CF, de Groot S. Validity of the Life Satisfaction questions, the Life Satisfaction Questionnaire, and the Satisfaction With Life Scale in persons with spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2012, 93(10): 1832-7.

Richardson EJ and Richards JS. Factor structure of the PHQ-9 screen for depression across time since injury among persons with spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation Psychology, 2008; 53(2):243-249.

Scherer MJ and Cushman LA. Measuring subjective quality of life for spinal cord injury: a validation study of the assistive technology devise predisposition assessment. Disability and Rehabilitation, 2001; 23(9): 387-393.