CASP and the Leisure Paradox

Leisure activities have a significant impact on older adults’ quality of life. Despite the benefits of leisure, seniors face numerous constraints to leisure participation, including increased functional impairment, social isolation and lower motivation. Facing more constraints to leisure may lead to a gradual change in the significance of leisure to older adults’ quality of life. In this context, there are two contradictory hypotheses. One hypothesis implies that leisure becomes less important to quality of life with age, as seniors may become less activity-oriented and more self‑reflecting. Another hypothesis suggests that leisure becomes more important to quality of life as people age, as leisure becomes a means for keeping healthy, maintaining cognitive abilities, and preserving one’s youth, thus helping older adults cope with and resist the risks posed by the aging process.

In an attempt to assess the abovementioned contradictory hypotheses, my colleague, Prof. Galit Nimrod from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and I used longitudinal data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). We analyzed data from close to 8,000 interviews with retired persons aged 60 years and older from 19 countries across Europe. These interviewees reported their leisure activities (e.g., doing voluntary or charity work, attending an educational or training course) and completed the frequently used measure of quality of life – CASP-12.

We found that the advantage in CASP-12 scores that highly active persons (i.e., those who participated more in leisure activities) had over non-active persons (i.e., those who participated less in leisure activities) had increased as both groups aged. In other words, leisure is not only valuable to seniors’ quality of life, but also becomes increasingly more beneficial across the later life course. Interestingly, leisure remained linked with CASP-12 even after accounting for the effects of demographics and physical and cognitive health on CASP-12. This implies that even if people become less activity-oriented with age due to various physical and personal circumstances, they can still preserve their quality of life to some extent by maintaining involvement in leisure.

Our study points to the leisure paradox in old age; that is, older adults, who may benefit from leisure involvement more than their younger peers, are precisely those who face more constraints to beneficial use of leisure. Therefore, society should explore ways to help seniors apply strategies that help them preserve a high level of leisure involvement and quality of life in spite of challenging circumstances (e.g., help them adjust leisure aspirations, improve time arrangement and encourage skill development).


Nimrod, G., & Shrira, A. (2016). The paradox of leisure in later life. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 71, 106-111. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu143

Posted by Prof. Amit Shrira, Bar-Ilan University, Israel


CASP in the classroom

Exploring CASP-19 as a definition of quality of life in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

CASP-19 is useful not only as a measure of quality of life in research, but also as an approach to defining quality of life. Quality of life is a complex and difficult concept to define, with research studies and other literature using multiple and diverse definitions. The difficulties inherent in defining quality of life are a focus of Week 2 in the upcoming Trinity EngAGE Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – Strategies for Successful Ageing. The CASP-19 is put forward for discussion as a potential definition of quality of life at older ages.

In the MOOC, we discuss some of the challenges faced in defining quality of life. We emphasise the difficulties associated with definitions of quality of life that focus on health, particularly physical health. We draw on qualitative and quantitative evidence that shows that many people with poor health see themselves as having a good quality of life, and that as we get older physical health may become less important to our overall evaluations of our quality of life.

The CASP-19 is offered as a potential alternative definition of quality of life that is less focussed on physical health. It also includes concepts such as self-determination and purpose in life that are increasingly seen as fundamental to wellbeing. As part of the MOOC, we invite participants to discuss the CASP-19 approach to defining quality of life, and whether it fits with their own concepts of quality of life.

Definitions of quality of life are not just a technical and methodological issue. Concepts of quality of life that are overly focussed on physical health may influence our attitudes to ageing, leading to an overly pessimistic view of what life is like as we age. Definitions of quality of life that have the potential to capture the positive aspects of ageing can lead to a more positive outlook on ageing, for both individuals and society.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Strategies for Successful Ageing is now open for registration on the FutureLearn platform. This free five-week MOOC launches on the 8th of February 2016. It presents world-leading research in ageing and offers strategies to support health and well-being. The lead educator is Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Director of Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing and Founder of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). She is joined by Trinity EngAGE Principal Investigators including: Professors Davis Coakley, Brian Lawlor, Ian Robertson, Des O’Neil, Virpi Timonen, Fiona Newell, Sabina Brennan, Richard Layte and Dr David Thomas.

See the course description here:

TCD Online Education:

Posted by Dr Eithne Sexton


This site is designed to provide information for researchers who are interested in using the CASP measure of quality of life. CASP stands for Control, Autonomy, Self-realisation and Pleasure. It is an easy to administer, self-completion scale of either 19 or 12 questions that measures quality of life in later life. Since it was developed in 2003/4 CASP has gone on to be used in a variety of studies around the world and has been translated into several languages. It has been included in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), the Health, Work and Retirement (HWR) survey in New Zealand, the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and many more. It has also been used in smaller scale studies and even Randomised Control Tests. The validity, utility and adaptability of the CASP have made it one of the most commonly used measures of quality of life in later life.