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Positive psychology in health care | Translational Behavioral Medicine

Positive psychology in health care: defining key stakeholders and their roles

Lifestyle-related diseases have common risk factors: physical inactivity, poor diet, inadequate sleep, high stress, substance use, and social isolation. Evidence is mounting for the benefits of incorporating effective methods that promote healthy lifestyle habits into routine health care treatments. Research has established that healthy habits foster psychological and physiological health and that emotional well-being is central to achieving total well-being. The Happiness Science and Positive Health Committee of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine aims to raise awareness about strategies for prioritizing emotional well-being. The Committee advocates for collaborative translational research to adapt the positive psychology and behavioral medicine evidence base into methodologies that address emotional well-being in nonmental health care settings. Another aim is to promote health system changes that integrate evidence-based positive-psychology interventions into health maintenance and treatment plans. Also, the Committee seeks to ameliorate health provider burnout through the application of positive psychology methods for providers' personal health. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine and Dell Medical School held an inaugural Summit on Happiness Science in Health Care in May 2018. The Summit participants recommended research, policy, and practice innovations to promote total well-being via lifestyle changes that bolster emotional well-being. These recommendations urge stakeholder collaboration to facilitate translational research for health care settings and to standardize terms, measures, and clinical approaches for implementing positive psychology interventions. Sample aims of joint collaboration include developing evidence-based, practical, low-cost behavioral and emotional assessment and monitoring tools; grants to encourage dissemination of pilot initiatives; medical record dashboards with emotional well-being and related aspects of mental health as vital signs; clinical best practices for health care teams; and automated behavioral programs to extend clinician time. However, a few simple steps for prioritizing emotional well-being can be implemented by stakeholders in the near-term.


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