Operationalising the capability approach as an outcome measure in public health: The development of the OCAP-18

Paula Kate Lorgelly, Karen Lorimer, Elisabeth A L Fenwick, Andrew H Briggs, Paul Anand

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There is growing interest in operationalising the capability approach to measure quality of life. This paper reports the results of a research project undertaken in 2007 that sought to reduce and refine a longer survey in order to provide a summary measure of wellbeing and capability in the realm of public health. The reduction and refinement of the questionnaire took place across a number of stages, using both qualitative (five focus group discussions and 17 in-depth interviews) and quantitative (secondary data analysis, N = 1048 and primary data collection using postal surveys and interviews, N = 45) approaches. The questionnaire was reduced from its original 60+ questions to 24 questions (including demographic questions). Each of Nussbaum s ten Central Human Capabilities are measured using one (or more) of the 18 specific capability items which are included in the questionnaire (referred to as the OCAP-18). Analysis of the questionnaire responses (N = 198) found that respondents differed with respect to the levels of capabilities they reported, and that these capabilities appear to be sensitive to one s gender, age, income and deprivation decile. An index of capability, estimated by assuming equal weight for each capability question, found that the average level of capability amongst respondents was 12.44 (range 3-17.75). This index was found to be highly correlated with a measure of health (EQ-5D) and wellbeing (global QoL), although some differences were apparent. This project operationalised the capability approach to produce an instrument to measure the effectiveness (and cost effectiveness) of public health interventions; the resulting OCAP-18 appears to be responsive and measure something supplementary to health and wellbeing, thus offers a promising addition to the current suite of outcome measures that are available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68 - 81
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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