The history and future of wellness

Health Values. 1985 Nov-Dec;9(6):37-56.


Wellness books, conferences, centers, promoters, and corporate programs seem very popular at the present time. Conferences include the Wellness Promotion Strategies Conference, sponsored by The Institute for Lifestyle Improvement, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Kaiser-Permanente Health Promotion Strategies Conference; and the North Carolina Summer Wellness Festival, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Centers include: The Center for Health Promotion of the American Hospital Association, Chicago, Illinois, which maintains an up-to-date list of hospital-based wellness centers and offers a booklet entitled "Planning Hospital and Health Promotion Services for Business and Industry." Relative to what existed in Halbert L. Dunn's time, or just a few years ago, the spread of wellness activities seems impressive, to put it mildly. But how widespread is wellness? What exactly is wellness? How is it different, if at all, from medical self care, holistic health, and health promotion? Is it a movement or a fad? How significant is it? Why did it develop in the late 1970s and early 1980s and not sooner? Who (or what) have been the key individuals (or institutions, events, or circumstances) shaping the wellness idea itself? What trends will most affect it in the years ahead? Finally, what, if anything, can we say about the future of wellness? Aided by the Kaiser Permanente Health Care Programs, Oregon Region, a questionnaire and telephone survey was administered in late 1983 to a cross section of approximately 100 individuals considered to be "expert" on the subject of wellness. The interpretation of the data and responsibility for the following conclusions rest solely with the author.

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation / trends
  • Forecasting
  • Health Promotion / trends*
  • United States