The summer issue of the magazine delves into the question of how people thrive. It also includes a Q&A with author Laura Hillenbrand, who copes with chronic fatigue syndrome, on how she is leaving frailty behind.
August 15, 2016 - By Kathy Zonana
Humans long for a sense of well-being. For thousands of years, everyone — from philosophers such as Aristotle, Epictetus and Buddha to the smooth-talkingest snake-oil salesmen — have tugged at the problem of happiness, well-being and what makes for a good life.
Despite those endeavors, there is precious little data on what well-being means and how to attain it. “The vast majority of biomedical research has focused on treating diseases, while a much smaller part has focused on maintaining health and maybe some prevention efforts,” said John Ioannidis, MD, DSc, professor of medicine and director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “There’s very, very little research that has tried to look at the big picture — what makes people happy, resilient, creative, fully exploring their potential and living not only healthy, but more-than-healthy lives.”
But that research is expanding — and it’s the subject of a special report in the summer issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, “Strive, thrive and take five: The science of well-being.”
The report, produced with the support of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, includes a Q&A with author Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote the best-sellers Seabiscuit and Unbroken while grappling with severe chronic fatigue syndrome. The online version of the magazine includes audio of the conversation with Hillenbrand on what it means to be well when you have been unwell for decades.
Also in the special report:
- A feature on Stanford researchers’ efforts to define, measure and improve wellness in 30,000 people in the Bay Area, China and Taiwan.
- A piece on “stealth health,” and why tapping into people’s broad environmental, ethical or cultural motivations may be more successful than just telling them to eat better and exercise more.
- A story on how the local American Indian community asked Stanford researchers to help develop a culturally informed approach to diabetes prevention.
- An article on why research studies must be robust and reproducible if medical science is to keep us well.
- A look at how empowerment programs for girls and boys in Kenya could reduce the incidence of sexual assault.
- A feature about innovative ways to convince people to quit smoking, using new technologies and policy approaches.
- An article about how the frequency of cash assistance payments can influence what low-income people buy at the market.
- A quick look at a program that aims to convince college athletes they should wear sunscreen.
The issue also includes a feature about the Stanford Biodesign program’s efforts to take the cost of medical innovations into account, and an article on how age-related chronic systemic inflammation — aka “inflammaging” — may affect your heart.
Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at http://mednews.stanford.edu.