Advancing Psychosocial & Biobehavioral Approaches to Improving Emotional Well-Being PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Given rising levels of global stress, exacerbated by the pandemic, loneliness and mental health problems are on the rise, adding to the burden of chronic diseases. Most health-oriented research takes a harm-reduction approach, identifying and mitigating problems to reduce disease burden. Recent research has demonstrated that a greater focus on emotional well-being may provide another critical strategy for reducing disease burden and lead to significant improvements in population health. To advance the science and provide the strongest evidence base for practice, greater development of research capacity for studying emotional well- being (EWB) is needed. Core elements of emotional well-being (EWB)--hedonic, evaluative, and eudaimonic-- are associated with better healthspan and are hypothesized to play a causal role. Our overall aim is to create a cohesive transdisciplinary network of scientists engaged in mechanistic intervention-relevant research on EWB, with a specific focus on eudaimonia, and pathways by which EWB leads to healthy longevity, including social connection, positive physiology, and healthy behaviors. We bring together three leading institutions in EWB science, uniting UCSF (Epel, Mendes), Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard (Kubzansky) and UC Berkeley (Keltner, Simon-Thomas) and its interdisciplinary Greater Good Science Center (GGSC), whose digital platforms reach several millions annually (researchers, educators, health professionals). We will catalyze innovation and progress of mechanistic research on EWB by fostering a scientific community focused on measurement and intervention.
Our aims i nclude Aim 1) Facilitating analysis of EWB and healthspan across national cohort studies in 30 nations that are part of the Health and Retirement Study Family of Studies by harmonizing existing measures of EWB (e.g., life satisfaction, eudaimonic well-being, positive affect) and supporting causal- inference analyses;
Aim 2) Promoting early stage intervention research by developing sensitive EWB measures, and interventions that can increase EWB and drive change in relevant biobehavioral mediators including positive physiology profiles, leveraging existing technology and validated biosensors that measure autonomic nervous system and sleep;
and Aim 3) Creating and disseminating valuable research resources for studies of EWB and physical health, including a) making the harmonized EWB data across countries publicly available and providing pilot funding and senior scientist expertise to support investigator time to use the data; b) creating an expert consensus toolbox of EWB measures and methodology; and c) developing a library of empirically-validated EWB interventions (building on UCB's repository). After 4 years, the EWB network will have built strong research capacity and catapulted the field forward with innovative unifying models, consensus measurement and intervention resources, and mechanistic pilot data. Transdisciplinary collaborations will continue to generate key findings well beyond the network's input.

Public Health Relevance

While emotional well-being (EWB) promotes positive health across the lifespan, little is known about how to best increase EWB in ways that lead to downstream improvements in health. The goal of this network is to develop research resources and foster a cohesive community of interdisciplinary scholars focused on discovering which aspects of EWB are most tightly linked to physical health, which interventions most effectively increase EWB, and the biobehavioral processes that explain how EWB impacts health. The network leadership team unites three major research institutions (UCSF, Harvard, UC Berkeley), bringing together the infrastructure and scientific expertise in measurement, intervention development, and dissemination, needed to advance the science of well-being and health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Resource-Related Research Projects--Cooperative Agreements (U24)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAT1)
Program Officer
Simmons, Janine M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
Zip Code