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Stanford University School of Medicine

Strive, thrive and take five: Stanford Medicine magazine on the science of well-being

Feeling good? If so, that's fantastic - and also very mysterious, as I've learned while editing the new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine. The issue leads off with an article on a new quest to understand well-being. In it, the project's leader notes that despite its great importance to humanity, well-being is something medical scientists have hardly investigated.

"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."

Much of the work Ioannidis and his colleagues do at the Stanford Prevention Research Center aims to improve not only health but well-being. The magazine's special report on the science of well-being highlights that work.

The report also includes a Q&A, with author Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote the best-sellers Seabiscuit and Unbroken while grappling with severe chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as:

  • "Ulterior motivation": A piece on “stealth health,” and why tapping into people’s broad environmental, ethical or cultural motivations can be more successful than just telling them to eat better and exercise more.
  • "In the circle": A story on how the local American Indian community asked Stanford researchers to help develop a culturally informed approach to diabetes prevention
  • "Can you repeat that": An article on why research studies must be robust and reproducible if medical science is to keep us well.
  • "Standing up to sexual assault": A look at how empowerment programs for girls and boys in Kenya could reduce the incidence of sexual assault.
  • "The end game": A feature about innovative ways to convince people to quit smoking, using new technologies and policy approaches.
  • "Cash flow": An article about how the frequency of cash assistance payments can influence what low-income people buy at the market.
  • "Screen time": 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.

Previously: Ties that heal: Stanford Medicine magazine examines relationships, Precision health: A special report from Stanford Medicine magazine and Stanford Medicine magazine tells why a healthy childhood matters
Illustration by Christopher Silas Neal

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