What Works Wellbeing operated from 2014 to 2024. This website is a static repository of all assets captured at closure on 30 April. It will remain publicly accessible but will not be updated.  Read more
April 2024

Wellbeing Areas of Research Interest

Wellbeing Areas of Research Interest


The aim of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing has been to make evidence about wellbeing robust, relevant and useful and communicate it well to those who can and do use it, building a learning system for wellbeing.

Looking ahead, we recommend robust, strategically developed and meaningful research to help the UK to:

  • understand personal, family, community and national wellbeing and its drivers;
  • inform confident and proportionate decision making about what government, business and civil society can do to improve wellbeing and reduce wellbeing disparities;
  • ensure that wellbeing is sustainable for the future.

In general, our recommended approach to evidence generation is

  1. where evidence is more developed, roll out and scale appropriately, doing more robust evaluations;  
  2. where there are evidence gaps, develop a good-quality foundational evidence base, including using data analysis and high quality qualitative evidence; 
  3. keep collating and reviewing progress. 

With these Areas of Research Interest (ARI) we aim to inform those who fund and provide research about some of the most important questions and challenges facing wellbeing in the UK. This ARI document brings together the research recommendations from over 90 projects with Practice In Need of Evidence – PINE – from the last ten years. 

The overall ambition for wellbeing research is to continue to move towards Living Evidence Reviews of the global knowledge on the areas outlined in this document. 

The five wellbeing areas of research interest

  1. Population wellbeing and wellbeing inequalities
  2. Wellbeing in working age
  3. Place and community wellbeing
  4. Loneliness and connection
  5. Methods and measures for wellbeing

These ARI build on the ten years of our collaborative research and experience, and those of our partners.  Specifically, they draw on

  • our research findings;
  • our public dialogues across the UK;
  • the statistics on national wellbeing;
  • our understanding of what professionals in all sectors – the engines of action and research –  need so they can act with appropriate confidence to improve, sustain and maximise wellbeing through their work both paid and unpaid.   

They have been generated as part of securing the Centre’s legacy. Following our closure on 30 April 2024, we hope that collective learning about wellbeing continues to grow at the pace it has over the last ten years.

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