Human Flourishing and Population Health: Meaning, Measurement, and Implications

Perspect Biol Med. 2020;63(3):401-419. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2020.0029.


Human flourishing has recently emerged as a construct of interest in clinical and population-health studies. Its origins as a focus of research are rooted in philosophical writing dating to Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia, in the work of contemporary psychologists, and in studies by epidemiologists, physicians, and social and behavioral scientists who have investigated religious influences on physical and mental health since the 1980s. Inasmuch as human flourishing has been characterized as multidimensional or multifaceted, with hypothetically broad antecedents and significant outcomes, it may be an especially valuable construct for researchers. For one, it would seem to tap something deeper and more meaningful than the superficial single-item measures that often characterize such studies. This article surveys the rich history of the concept of human flourishing in its multiple meanings and contexts across disciplines, proposes a conceptual model for assessing the construct, and lays out an agenda for clinical and population-health research.

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Sciences / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Population Health*
  • Research Design / standards*
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Sociology, Medical / organization & administration