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November 2023

Exploratory analysis of Health Index data 2015-21 and subjective wellbeing

Exploratory analysis of Health Index data 2015-21 and subjective wellbeing

About the report

Mental and physical health is one of the top three drivers of high wellbeing nations, and the biggest driver of individual wellbeing. The relationship is bidirectional, meaning that subjective wellbeing can influence health, and at the same time, health can also impact subjective wellbeing.

Understanding which health factors have the most significant impact on people’s subjective wellbeing provides a valuable roadmap for healthcare policymakers and practitioners. There is huge potential for uncovering likely interventions that promote physical and mental health, especially in developing population mental health, rather than just treating illness.

Armed with this knowledge, the Department for Health, and local authorities, can make more informed decisions about healthcare policies and programs, prioritising areas that have the greatest influence on people’s lives, and building human capital.

Similarly, healthcare professionals can apply evidence-informed insights to offer more tailored and effective patient care, ultimately improving the health of individuals.

Going ‘beyond GDP’ – by developing more nuanced understanding through multi-metric approaches to measuring, monitoring, and driving social progress – offers a way to shift from treatment to prevention.

Our goal with this paper is to:

  • summarise the main findings of the existing literature on the relationship between some Health index components and subjective wellbeing;
  • share insights from exploratory analysis of ONS Health Index data to further investigate the relationships between subjective wellbeing, physical health, and mental health at the local authority level from 2015 to 2021;
  • increase access to and use of the Health Index data as a resource within and outside the health sector.

We have made the code available on the What Works Centre for Wellbeing GitHub as an open source tool. This is part of our ambition to reduce the cost and improve quality of future analysis, making it easier, cheaper and quicker for ourselves and others.

This analysis has been funded by the Health Foundation, an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in
the UK.

Close About the report

You may also wish to read the blog article on this document.

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