Op-ed: ‘Positive epidemiology’ needed to study health

Much as “positive psychology” looks at the science of human strengths, a “positive epidemiology” is needed to increase understanding around what causes people to not just avoid disease, but to flourish, according to Tyler VanderWeele, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Human Flourishing Program.

In an op-ed published February 25, 2020 in Psychology Today, VanderWeele said that more study is needed on how important aspects of people’s lives such as family, community, education, and work may contribute to positive health outcomes.

“In neglecting these positive aspects of health and well-being, and by focusing predominantly on disease and risk factors, public health officials and researchers neglect the full range of things that people care about in life,” he wrote.

VanderWeele co-authored the commentary Positive Epidemiology?, published online March 2020 in Epidemiology.

Read the Psychology Today post: What Is Positive Epidemiology?