At the Fifth World Congress on Positive Psychology, the Positive Health & Wellness Division (PH&W) sponsored three major events full of robust research findings and key takeaways. Read on to learn more (or review) what was covered in the field of positive health and health sciences.

Positive Health and Wellness Division Leadership Team members with Dr. Judith Moskowitz at the Fifth World Congress on Positive Psychology (Front row, left to right: Gail Ironson, Ph.D, MD; Judith Mosowitz, Ph.D.; Joel Milam, Ph.D.. Back row, left to right: Hitomi Katsumi; Alina Yarova, MPH; Steve Zarian, MA; Elaine O’Brien, Ph.D., MAPP; Fredrick Brown, Ph.D.)


Positive Health Psychology Data Extravaganza

Six groups of presenters shared some of the most profound and cutting-edge positive health research in an amazingly rapid-fire data blitz style. Main results from each presentation were:

  • A study with 30,000 deployed U.S. Army soldiers revealed that 39% of them reported at least one new body region with pain after returning, but optimism was found to reduce the risk of such new pain development (Afton Hassett, University of Michigan Medical School, et al.)
  • A 17-year longitudinal study examining the effects of compassionate love (CL) with 177 people living with HIV (PLWH) revealed that of the three elements of CL (CL giving, CL receiving, and CL towards self), CL giving and CL towards self predicted a lower mortality rate (Gail Ironson, University of Miami, et al.)
  • A study measuring telomere length of 118 healthy African Americans from Detroit, MI revealed that while telomere length was negatively associated with chronological age, the personal belief of justice (positively related to telomere length) and general belief of justice (negatively related to telomere length) mediated such an effect for the older subjects, suggesting that perceptions of justice/injustice could protect African Americans from the negative health effects due to experienced race-based social adversity (Todd Lucas, Wayne State University, et al.)
  • An 18-year longitudinal study with more than 30,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study cohort indicated that women with moderate to high levels of happiness had an increased likelihood to report healthy lifestyles 18 years later, and those with moderate to high levels of optimism had a greater likelihood to report healthy lifestyles 6 years later (Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, et al.)
  • A cross-sectional study of 497 women who were pregnant at the time they experienced the 2015 Earthquakes in Bhaktapur, Nepal showed that while the severity of the earthquakes was not significantly correlated with their mental well-being, long-term factors such as optimal relationship with an intimate partner, education, and marriage were positively associated with mental well-being (Goma Khatri, Monash University, et al.)
  • A study with 645 men in Canada assessing the Jolly Fat Hypothesis indicated that while the subjects’ well-being (emotional, social, and psychological) did not differ among different weights (recorded through BMI reports), once accounting for relationship status, single men who were overweight showed higher emotional well-being while obese single men displayed lower psychological and social well-being (those in relationship didn’t show such significant correlations) (Sophie Meunier, Université du Québec à Montréal, et al.)


Want to learn more? The division is currently planning on inviting our Data Extravaganza speakers back for a webinar encore to elaborate more on their research — stay tuned for our division’s future announcements! (Not a division member? Scroll to the bottom for the instructions on how to join the PH&W division.)


PH&W Division Business Meeting

The PH&W division leadership team and attendees discussed the upcoming initiatives for the division, including the benefits of the division membership, Research Practice Dialogue Series, a call for submission and volunteer opportunity for our new Chronicle of Advances in Positive Health and Well-Being.


The Business Meeting Slides (download link)

Watch the Pre-Congress Virtual Town Hall


Photo of the Business Meeting Attendees at the Fifth World Congress on Positive Psychology


Contributions in Positive Health Award Lecture with Professor Judith Moskowitz

Division President Dr. Gail Ironson, left, with award winner Dr. Judith Moskowitz


Professor Judith Moskowitz from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine shared her work examining the effects of incorporating aspects of positive psychology into interventions to help people coping with various types of health related stress. These include people with HIV, diabetes, dementia caregivers, and those with depression. Watch the recording of Professor Moskowitz’s award lecture here.



Interested in Following the Division’s Upcoming Activities?

Here’s how to join the PH&W division so that you get the latest updates:

  1. Log into your IPPA membership account
  2. On the account profile page, click on “My Information”
  3. Click on “Edit/View Information”
  4. Scroll to the bottom and check “Health Division”
  5. Click “Save”