Mendota Mental Health Institute - Satisfaction with Life Scale (Test, Greenberg, Long, Brekke, Senn Burke, 2005)

Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) Logo


The Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWL) is a measuring instrument developed as part of the evaluation of Mendota Mental Health Institute's Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). It is an 18 item self-report scale for use in evaluation research to assess aspects of the subjective satisfaction with life of adults with serious mental illness. In evaluations of services interventions the SWL should always be used along with other instruments to assess additional critical dimensions of outcome such as clinical symptoms, client functioning, and objective quality of life and environment. The SWL is not intended for use as a clinical tool to assess an individual client's progress or preferences.

The SWL, with directions for administration and scoring, appears below. It may be downloaded and used without permission from its authors. Those considering its use are requested to read carefully a recent paper which describes its background and development, purpose, dimensions or factors, multi-site study of construct validity, and potential uses and limitations. The paper also compares the SWL with other instruments intended to measure a similar construct. The paper reference is the appropriate citation for the SWL by those who ultimately use this scale in their own evaluation work: Test, MA, Greenberg, JS, Long, JD, Brekke, JS and Senn Burke, S: "Construct Validity of a Measure of Subjective Satisfaction with Life of Adults with Serious Mental Illness", Psychiatric Services, Vol. 56, no. 3, 2005.

Directions for Administration:
The SWL scale is administered during a research staff person's face-to-face follow-along assessment of fully informed and consenting participants. Individuals are presented with a copy of the Satisfaction With Life scale and are read these directions, which are printed at the top of the form: "Below are some questions about how you like your present life. Put an X through the words that best reflect your feelings about your life at this time." Each item is followed by five Likert-type response options. If an individual has difficulty with reading, attention, or concentration, the staff person reads the questions and response options to the participant.

Scoring and Summarizing an Individual?s SWL Responses:
The 18 items of the SWL are each followed by five interval scaled Likert type response options. In our work we used scores of 0 through 4 for each item, with "0" representing the least degree of satisfaction (e.g., "Not At All") and "4" representing the greatest satisfaction (e.g., "A Great Deal").

The SWL measures an individual's satisfaction with his or her current life in four domains: Living Situation (items: 1 - 4); Social Relationships (items 5 - 10); Employment/Work (items 12 - 13); and Self and Present Life (item 11 and items 15 - 18).

The respondent's mean score for each of the four domains is calculated. A domain score for Work should not be calculated if responses to either of the items are missing. For each of the other three domains, no more than one item should be missing. Finally, please note that it is neither psychometrically nor theoretically appropriate to simply sum all 18 items of the scale to gain a measure of "overall" satisfaction. For further information, please see the article referenced above.

Satisfaction with Life Scale (PDF, 18 KB)


Last Revised: July 13, 2015

Mendota Mental Health Institute
301 Troy Drive, Madison, WI 53704

Phone: 608-301-1000
Fax: 608-301-1358
TTY/TDD: 888-241-9442