3 factors linked to physical, mental and social well-being
An environment-wide association study (EWAS) has identified depressive symptoms, life satisfaction and happiness as key factors that influence population health, which is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a state of physical, mental and social well-being.
Researchers performed EWAS with a training and testing set approach using data from the Hong Kong FAMILY Cohort. The analysis included 10,484 participants with a median follow-up of 2.2 years. The training set (n=6,289; mean age, 46.3 years; 45.1 percent male) and the testing set (n=4,195; mean age, 45.6 years; 45.3 percent male) were similar with respect to sociodemographic characteristics.
Out of 194 exposures, only three emerged as simultaneously associated with the three outcomes that define health. Specifically, each 1-standard deviation [SD] unit decrease in baseline depressive symptoms (measured using Patient Health Questionnaire-9 score) correlated with better physical well-being (0.05 point; range for self-rated health 1–5), mental well-being (0.67 point; range for mental component summary score 0–100) and social well-being (0.06 point; range for family harmony score 5–25).
Feeling satisfied with one’s own life was also associated a more favourable physical (0.16 point), mental (2.05 point) and social well-being (0.69 point). The same was true with higher happiness score, with corresponding estimates of 0.06, 0.97 and 0.21 point.
The present data promote mental health and support the use of life satisfaction and happiness to guide public policy, according to the researchers. Furthermore, if verified to be causal, the findings could inform intervention targets to holistically improve population health.