Quality of Life Research

, Volume 21, Issue 10, pp 1785–1794 | Cite as

From well-being to positive mental health: conceptualization and qualitative development of an instrument in Singapore

  • Janhavi Ajit Vaingankar
  • Mythily Subramaiam
  • Yee Wei Lim
  • Cathy Sherbourne
  • Nan Luo
  • Gery Ryan
  • Amy Phua
  • Shazana Shahwan
  • Kian Woon Kwok
  • Julie Brown
  • Melissa Bradley
  • Maria Orlando Edelen
  • Siow Ann Chong



There is no global definition of well-being. Cultural differences in the perception of well-being and the social and behavioral contexts further limit its measurement. Existing instruments are developed in Western societies that differ in their conceptualization of well-being from Asian populations. Moreover, very few instruments address the multidimensional construct of well-being.


Literature was reviewed to develop a priori conceptual framework of mental health and well-being. Concepts were identified based on specific criteria to guide the qualitative investigations. Finally, focus group discussions were conducted among adults belonging to the three major ethnicities in Singapore to identify salient domains of mental health and well-being.


Mental well-being is a multidimensional construct constituting of positive affect, satisfaction, and psychological functioning. While well-being explains the functional and psychological components, positive mental health is a combination of these and the skills required to achieve them. Although there is an overlap between the concepts identified from the literature and those identified in Singapore, certain differences existed, particularly with the relevance attributed to family interactions and religiosity or spirituality. Similar findings were observed across the three ethnic groups.


Domains identified can be used to develop a culturally relevant instrument in Singapore.


Positive mental health Mental well-being Focus group discussion Multidimensional Instrument development 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janhavi Ajit Vaingankar
    • 1
  • Mythily Subramaiam
    • 1
  • Yee Wei Lim
    • 2
  • Cathy Sherbourne
    • 2
  • Nan Luo
    • 4
  • Gery Ryan
    • 2
  • Amy Phua
    • 1
  • Shazana Shahwan
    • 1
  • Kian Woon Kwok
    • 3
  • Julie Brown
    • 2
  • Melissa Bradley
    • 2
  • Maria Orlando Edelen
    • 2
  • Siow Ann Chong
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Division, Institute of Mental HealthWoodbridge HospitalSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  3. 3.School of Humanities and Social SciencesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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