1. This cross-sectional study found that physical activity, employment, pain, and sense of control were the most important factors that influenced health-related quality of life in middle-aged men and women.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
HRQoL, a crucial metric in public health research, encompasses both physical and mental aspects of health and is influenced by a complex interplay of factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, and physical and mental well-being. This multicenter, cross-sectional study of 29,212 individuals aged 50-64 from the general population in Sweden (mean [SD] age 57.5 [4.3] years; 48% men; mean physical HRQoL score 52.4 [9.0]; mean mental HRQoL score 37.2 [5.2]), investigated the factors most important for physical and mental HRQoL using the Short Form 12 questionnaire. The study utilized machine learning to evaluate the association of 356 variables, including demographics, lifestyle, symptoms, physiological measurements, and health conditions, each assigned an importance score reflecting its impact on HRQoL. Men and women had comparable scores for physical HRQoL (men: 53.4 [SD 8.1], women: 51.4 [SD 9.7]) and mental HRQoL (men: 37.1 [SD 5.0], women: 37.3 [SD 5.4]). Key factors affecting physical HRQoL were physical activity (with an importance score of 40), employment (36), pain (33), sleep (33), sense of control (26), breathlessness (18), body size (14), and allergy (10). The order of importance remained consistent between genders except for pain, which ranked higher for women. Key factors for mental HRQoL included sense of control (18), physical activity (12), depression (12), pain (6), employment (5), age (5), sleep (4), and alcohol (3). Men ranked physical activity, employment, and sleep, higher than women, while women ranked depression, pain, body size, and family health history higher. Overall, these findings highlight that men and women shared similar HRQoL levels, with physical activity, employment status, pain experience, and sense of control influencing physical and mental HRQoL the most. These factors are modifiable and should be the target of future public health interventions.
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