Advertisement

Improving the Health Care Sector with a Happiness-Based Approach

The Case of the Happiness Route
  • Laura A. WeissEmail author
  • Sarah Kedzia
  • Aad Francissen
  • Gerben J. Westerhof
Chapter
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Abstract

Traditionally, welfare states in Western Europe and their health care systems focused on the problems of individual citizens. Similarly, academic disciplines paid greater attention to what is going wrong than on what is going right. Nowadays the focus is shifting. It has been argued that it is important to complement the traditional approach of the prevention and treatment of problems with a new goal: the promotion of well-being . People’s strengths, talents and virtues are increasingly recognized as means to help people to stay or become better, prevent chronification of diseases and save costs for society. This new happiness-based approach can be used to find answers to challenges of modern welfare systems . This is especially important for the group of chronically ill persons who get caught in a vicious cycle of worsening functioning and increasing health care. Despite the care they receive, their well-being remains low. We introduce a happiness-based approach to complement the problem-focused approach with the aim of enhancing well-being . We describe the Happiness Route as one of the few theory-based interventions where the happiness-based approach is currently applied. The Happiness Route intends to increase emotional, psychological and social well-being of socially isolated people with low socioeconomic status and chronic illnesses. The intervention builds on positive psychology (in particular self-determination theory) and behavioural economics (in particular nudging). Participants are nudged to find and carry out an intrinsically motivated activity that supports them in fulfilling basic psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competence. We will discuss findings of pilot studies as well as conditions for a successful implementation. One pilot study showed that participants’ well-being increased and health care consumption decreased. Now a randomized controlled field study is being carried out to evaluate the effect of the Happiness Route . We conclude that the happiness-based approach is an innovative way to improve the health care sector. It is both important and possible to promote well-being in order to achieve a flourishing population .

Keywords

Happiness Route Promotion of well-being Health care systems Modern welfare system Happiness-based approach Enhancing well-being Flourishing population 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We want to thank David Maylia sincerely for proofreading the text and his helpful suggestions.

References

  1. Barry, M. M., & Rachel, J. (2007). Implementing mental health promotion. Oxford: Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier.Google Scholar
  2. Bijl, R., Boelhouwer, J., Cloïn, M., & Pommer, E. (Eds.). (2011). De sociale staat van Nederland 2011. Den Haag: Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau.Google Scholar
  3. Bolier, L., Haverman, M., Westerhof, G. J., Riper, H., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2013). Positive psychology interventions: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chida, Y., & Steptoe, A. (2008). Positive psychological well-being and mortality: A quantitative review of prospective observational studies. Psychosomatic Medicine, 70, 741–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, S., & Pressman, S. D. (2006). Positive affect and health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(3), 122–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crumbaugh, J. C., & Maholick, L. T. (1964). An experimental study in existentialism: The psychometric approach to Frankl’s concept of noogenic neurosis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 20, 200–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychologist, 55, 34–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (1999). Personality and subjective wellbeing. In D. Kahneman., E. Diener & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 213–229). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  9. Diener, E., & Ryan, K. (2009). Subjective well-being: A general overview. South African Journal of Psychology, 39(4), 391–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fledderus, M., Bohlmeijer, E. T., Smit, F., & Westerhof, G. J. (2010). Mental health promotion as a new goal in public mental health care: A randomized controlled trial of an intervention enhancing psychological flexibility. American Journal of Public Health, 100, 2372–2378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Francissen, A., Wezenberg, E., & Westerhof, G. J. (2010). De gevolgen van geluk; Achtergronden en toekomst van het geluksbudget. Borne: Arcon.Google Scholar
  13. Frankl, V. E. (1966). What is meant by meaning? Journal of Existentialism, 7, 21–28.Google Scholar
  14. Graham, C. (2005). The economics of happiness. World Economics, 6(3), 41–55.Google Scholar
  15. Hannah, S. T., Woolfolk, R. L., & Lord, R. G. (2009). Leader self-structure: A framework for positive leadership. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(2), 269–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Howell, R. T., Kern, M. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). Health benefits: Meta-analytically determining the impact of well-being on objective health outcomes. Health Psychology Review, 1, 83–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kedzia, S. (2009). What makes you happy? Evaluating an intervention aimed at promoting social participation. Masterthesis. Enschede: Universiteit Twente.Google Scholar
  18. Keyes, C. L. M. (1998). Social well-being. Social psychology quarterly, 61(2), 121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2), 207–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Keyes, C. L. M. (2005). Mental illness and/or mental health? Investigating axioms of the complete state model of health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 539–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Keyes, C. L. M. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing: A complementary strategy for improving national mental health. American Psychologist, 62, 95–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Keyes, C. L., Dhingra, S. S., & Simoes, E. J. (2010). Change in level of positive mental health as a predictor of future risk of mental illness. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2366–2371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Korte, J., Bohlmeijer, E. T., Cappeliez, P., Smit, F., & Westerhof, G. J. (2012). Life review therapy for older adults with moderate depressive symptomatology: A pragmatic randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 42(6), 1163–1173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lamers, S. M. A., Bolier, L., Westerhof, G. J., Smit, F., & Bohlmeijer, Ernst T. (2011). The impact of emotional well-being on long-term recovery and survival in physical illness: A meta-analysis. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35(5), 538–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L. A., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport. (2010). Welzijn nieuwe stijl. Den Haag: Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport.Google Scholar
  27. Park, C. L., & Folkman, S. (1997). Meaning in the context of stress and coping. Review of General Psychology, 1(2), 115–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peters Weem, B. (2011). Geluk in de Praktijk; Een verkenning van het gebruik van concepten als geluk (happiness) in Nederlandse welzijnsprojecten. Masterthesis. Enschede: Universiteit Twente.Google Scholar
  29. Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2005). Does positive affect influence health? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 925–971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Raad voor de Volksgezondheid en Zorg. (2010a). Zorg voor je gezondheid! Gedrag en gezondheid: De nieuwe ordening. Den Haag: RVZ.Google Scholar
  31. Raad voor de Volksgezondheid en Zorg RVZ. (2010b). Perspectief op gezondheid 20/20. Den Haag: Koninklijke Broese and Peereboom b.v.Google Scholar
  32. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). On happiness and human potentials: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 141–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (1998). The role of purpose in life and personal growth in positive human health. In P. T. Wong & P. S. Fry (Eds.), The human quest for meaning: A handbook of psychological research and clinical applications (pp. 213–235). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  36. Ryff, C. D., & Singer, B. (2010). Psychological well-being: Meaning, measurement, and implications for psychotherapy research. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 65(1), 14–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57, 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55, 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Seligman, M. E. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: Positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35(3), 293–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sin, N. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well-being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: A practice-friendly meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65, 467–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thaler, Richard H., and Cass R. Sunstein. 2008. Nudge. Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Tiemeijer, W. L., Thomas, C. A., & Prast, H. M. (2009). De menselijke beslisser. Over de psychologie van keuze en gedrag. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Valtorta, N. K., & Hanratty, B. (2013). Socioeconomic variation in the financial consequences of ill health for older people with chronic diseases: A systematic review. Maturitas, 74(4), 313–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Van der Plaats, A. J. (1994). Geriatrie: een spel van evenwicht. Dissertatie. Assen: Van Gorcum.Google Scholar
  45. Van der Plaats, A. J. (2002). Eindrapportage Zorg in Beeld Verlicht. Almelo: Gemeente Almelo.Google Scholar
  46. Van der Plaats, A. J. (2007). Eindrapportage Onderzoek PGB Welzijn. Almelo: Gemeente Almelo.Google Scholar
  47. Veenhoven, R. (1996). Developments in satisfaction research. Social Indicators Research, 37, 1–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Veenhoven, R. (2008). Healthy happiness: Effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 449–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten VNG. (2010). Kantelen in de Wmo: Handreiking voor visieontwikkeling en organisatieverandering. Den Haag: Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten.Google Scholar
  50. Walburg, J. (2008). Mentaal vermogen: Investeren in geluk. Nieuw Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  51. Waterman, A. S. (1993). Two conceptions of happiness: Contrasts of personal experience (eudaimonia) and hedonic enjoyment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 678–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Weiss, L. A., Westerhof, G. J., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2013). Nudging socially isolated people towards well-being with the ‘Happiness Route’: Design of a randomized controlled trial for the evaluation of a happiness-based intervention. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 11, 159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Westerhof, G. J. (2013). The complete mental health model: The social distribution of mental health and mental illness in the Dutch population. In C. L. M. Keyes (Eds.), Mental well-being: International contributions to the study of positive mental health (pp. 51–70). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  54. Westerhof, G. J., & Bohlmeijer, E. T. (2010). Psychologie van de levenskunst. Amsterdam: Boom.Google Scholar
  55. Westerhof, G. J., & Keyes, C. L. M. (2010). Mental illness and mental health: The two continua model across the lifespan. Journal of Adult Development, 17, 110–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. World Health Organization. (2005). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
  57. Zika, S., & Chamberlain, K. (1992). On the relation between meaning in life and psychological well-being. British Journal of Psychology, 83(1), 133–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura A. Weiss
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah Kedzia
    • 2
  • Aad Francissen
    • 3
  • Gerben J. Westerhof
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Health and TechnologyUniversiteit TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Academy for Swiss Insurance MedicineUniversity Hospital BaselBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.GeluksacademieArconBorneThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations