Staff profile: Dr. Anna Lau

Director of Research
Australian Centre bon Quality of Life
+61 3 92446817

Role and Profile

Dr Lau is both Director of Research in the Australian Centre on Quality of Life and Honorary Fellow in the School of Psychology. Since obtaining her professional qualifications in Occupational Therapy with Honours distinction at the University of Queensland (Australia), her academic/professional interest has broadened to focusing on the cross-disciplinary field of quality of life. She has extensive work experience both in Hong Kong and Australia. Prior to joining Deakin University, she was an academic in Hong Kong (Hong Kong Polytechnic University - Department of Rehabilitation Sciences) for many years. She has extensive teaching (undergraduate and postgraduate), research and clinical experience with all age groups, specific populations and particularly with aspects/fields concerning health/chronic illness and disability, rehabilitation, geriatrics/gerontology, and quality of life (QOL).

Her research expertise and publications are in QOL/Subjective Wellbeing. They include, but are not limited, to the above-mentioned groups and subject/fields. Having lived, studied and worked in different cultures within Asia Pacific, Dr Lau has a special interest and expertise in cross-cultural sensitivity, which is a pertinent dimension of her work in QOL. Under the auspice of the International Wellbeing Group, she produced (with Professor Robert Cummins), test manuals of the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI, English and Chinese) for the Adult population. In joint authorship with Prof Cummins, she also produced three other parallel forms of the PWI for people with cognitive impairment and children (English and Chinese). In the capacity of Principal Researcher and Convenor of the International Wellbeing Group for Hong Kong, she validated all forms of the Chinese-translated PWI for adults and these special populations for use in Hong Kong and other Chinese communities. Dr Lau holds offices in various international and Hong Kong QOL professional bodies.

Dr Lau has served as an editorial board member and as regular reviewer of international journals concerned with QOL, health, disability and rehabilitation. She has also served as an adviser and assessor of grant applications on QOL research projects. In recognition of her academic and professional contributions, Dr Lau has been invited as speaker and convenor at scientific meetings and also, received awards for outstanding teaching and QOL research.

Research Interests

  • Quality of life
  • Subjective well-being/ Happiness and satisfaction

Core aspects of the above include

  • their conceptualization, measurement and investigations of general adult and specific populations (e.g. children, with disability, elderly)
  • cross-cultural measurement and investigations (particularly between Chinese and Western societies/cultures)

Service to the University, discipline or community

  • Board of Directors and Member of Executive Committee, The International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS)
  • China Regional Coordinator and, Hong Kong Principal Researcher and Convenor, The International Wellbeing Group
  • Founding Member and, Council and Executive Committee Member, The Hong Kong Society for Quality of Life
  • Committee Member of Working Group for Social Indicators and Social Tracking, International Sociological Association
  • Member of Editorial Advisory Board for Encyclopedia of Social Indicators and Quality of Life Studies, In K. Land (Ed.), New York and London: Springer
  • Member of Editorial Boards, Social Indicators Research and International Journal of Disability and Rehabilitation
  • Reviewer of manuscripts and grant applications concerned with QOL, health, disability and rehabilitation (eg. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, Social Indicators Research, Disability and Rehabilitation, Hong Kong Research Grant Council)
  • Chair/Convenor/Organizer/Committee member of international and local scientific meetings e.g. ISQOLS conferences, International Wellbeing Symposiums, ACQOL workshops and conferences


  • Distinguished Quality of Life Research Fellow Award. Awarded by the International Society for Quality of Life Studies. (2004)
  • Outstanding Teaching Award. Awarded by the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. (2004)
  • Nominated Outstanding Paper Awards (Finalist) for 9th, 10th and 14th Annual Congresses of Gerontology, Hong Kong Association of Gerontology. (2001-2, 2006)
  • The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland Research Scholarship. (1987)


  • Australian Centre on Quality of Life
  • Australian Quality of Life Society
  • Australian Association of Occupational Therapy (National and Queensland)
  • Hong Kong Association of Gerontology
  • Hong Kong Association of Occupational Therapy
  • Hong Kong Brain Foundation
  • Hong Kong Society for Quality of Life
  • International Society for Quality of Life Studies
  • International Society for Quality of Life Research
  • International Sociological Association

Conferences (selected)

  • Lau, A.L.D., & Wong, Idy Y.Y. (2009). Satisfaction with spirituality and subjective wellbeing: Does it have a place within the Personal Wellbeing Index for Chinese older adults? 9th Conference of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies, Florence, Italy, July.
  • Lau, A.L.D. Cummins, R.A, Chan, C.C.H. Chan, B.C.M , Tang, L.K. (2007). Subjective Wellbeing Measurement of Children Using the Personal Wellbeing Index. 8th Conference of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies, San Diego, USA, December
  • Lau, A.L.D. (2007). Cross-cultural comparisons of subjective wellbeing: The East and West. Invited paper, Second International Symposium on The Wellbeing of Nations- East vs West, Graduate Institute of Philosophy, National Central University, Jhongli, Taiwan, November
  • Lau, A.L.D (2006). Interfacing Health-Related QOL and Subjective Wellbeing in Quality of Life Measurement (plenary paper). Invited paper, Conference on quality of Life in Asia, Hong Kong Society for Quality of Life, Hong Kong, May.
  • Lau, A.L.D., & Cummins, RA. (2005). Contemporary approaches to quality of life measurement: Measuring subjective wellbeing. Workshop, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, June.
  • Lau, A.L.D., Li, E.P.Y., Mcgillivray J., Cummins, R.A., C.C.H., Chan, & Lam, P.K.W. (2005) Measuring the subjective life quality of people with intellectual disability: The Personal Wellbeing Index. 1st Asia-Pacific Regional Congress of International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID), June.
  • Lau, A.L.D., Cummins, R.A., & Yeung, P.H. (2004). A cross-cultural investigation into “Happiness” and “Satisfaction”. (Plenary) 6th Conference of the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, Philadelphia, USA, November

Publications (selected)

  • Davey, G, Chen, Z. & Lau, A. (2009). Peace in a thatched hut – that is happiness: Subjective wellbeing amongst peasants in rural China, Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(2), 239-252.
  • McGillivray, J., Lau, A.L.D., Davey, G., & Cummins, R.A. (2009). The utility of the Personal Wellbeing Index-Intellectual Disability (PWI-ID) scale in an Australian sample. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 22, 276-286.
  • Lau, A.L.D., Chi, I., Cummins, R.A., Lee, T.M.C., Chou, K.L., & Chung, L.W.M. (2008) The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic in Hong Kong: Effects on the subjective wellbeing of elderly and younger people. Journal of Aging and Mental Health, 12(6), 746-760.
  • Lau, A.L.D, Cummins, R.A, & McPherson, W. (2005). An investigation into the cross-cultural equivalence of the Personal Wellbeing Index, Social Indicators Research, 72(3), 403-430.
  • Cummins, R.A., Lau, A.L.D., & Stokes, M. (2004). Health-related quality of life and subjective wellbeing: Non-complementary forms of outcome measurement. Expert Review in Pharmacoeconomics Outcomes Research, 4(4), 89-96.
  • Lau, A.L.D., McKenna, K., Chan, C.C.H., & Cummins, R.A. (2003). Defining quality of life for Chinese elderly stroke survivors. Disability and Rehabilitation, 25(13), 699-711.
  • Lau, A, & McKenna, K. (2001). Conceptualising quality of life for elderly people with stroke. Disability and Rehabilitation, 23(6), 227-238.


All Personal Wellbeing Indices and their test manuals (English and Chinese versions) for Adults, Children and People with Intellectual Disability/Cognitive Impairment which Dr Lau has produced in joint editor/authorship with Professor Robert Cummins, can be viewed at the following link:

Highest Qualification

  • Doctor of Philosophy University of Queensland, Australia Completed: 15-Nov-00