Improving the Health Care Sector with a Happiness-Based Approach: The Case of the Happiness Route

Laura A. Weiss, S. Kedzia, A.A. Francissen, Gerben J. Westerhof

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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
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWell-being in contemporary society
EditorsJ.H. Soraker, J.-W. van der Rijt, J. Boer, P. Brey, P.H. Wong
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-06459-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-06458-1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventConference Well-being in Contemporary Society 2012 - University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 26 Jul 201227 Jul 2012

Publication series

NameHappiness Studies Book Series
ISSN (Print)2213-7513
ISSN (Electronic)2213-7521


ConferenceConference Well-being in Contemporary Society 2012
OtherJuly 26-27, 2012


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