A new paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) authored by Tyler J. VanderWeele (Human Flourishing Program – Harvard), PhD, Eileen McNeely, PhD (SHINE – Harvard) ; Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH (Culture of Health – Harvard) explores how even more holistic measures of “well-being” from medicine, psychology, economics, sociology, and government, while come closer to capturing an individual’s complete well-being, still often fall short.
The authors propose that in contrast to many previously proposed measures that are not as comprehensive, the flourishing index addresses 5 universally desired domains (happiness and life satisfaction, physical and mental health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, close social relationships) that constitute ends, as well as a sixth (financial and material security) that constitutes a critical means to securing them.
The authors conclude that the concept of flourishing has the potential to capture health more broadly than existing wellness measures for both patients and populations. Asking questions related to flourishing can inform and refine many complex trade-offs for patients facing treatment decisions. The concept can potentially guide clinicians in assessing their own personal well-being as well as delivering better patient-centered care. At the population level, too, attention to flourishing may represent a more useful way to address policy and societal goals than current options. Such an approach could open a national conversation that reframes and reimagines traditional concepts of health.
To read the full paper please click here.