Optimising Physician Well-being: Lessons From Positive Psychology and Lifestyle Medicine

Ciaran O'boyle


Many people think of health and illness as binary opposites and equate being healthy with “not being ill”. However, the WHO definition of health as “complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” is a much broader construct in which health is seen as a state of complete well-being that is much more that simply not being ill. This perspective leads to considerations of how individual, organisational and societal factors might be mobilised to enhance health and well-being for everyone even those (the majority of us?) who, while not ill, are not thriving either. The recent emergence of the new disciplines of positive psychology and lifestyle medicine provide interesting new perspectives and interventions that allow healthcare practitioners to focus not only on treating disease but on empowering themselves and others to maximise health and well-being. In response to these developments, the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Ireland recently established a new Centre for Positive Psychology and Health with a mission to “educate, nurture and discover to enhance health and well-being through the application of positive psychology and lifestyle medicine”. This presentation will explore some of the key constructs and interventions in positive psychology and lifestyle medicine and examine ways in which these might be used to increase the well-being of healthcare staff in general and of doctors in particular.

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