Positive Health and Wellness Division
Election 2018


Liana Lianov, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACLM

She chairs the Happiness Science and Positive Health (HSPH) Committee of American College of Lifestyle Medicine, which convened the inaugural Summit on Happiness Science in Health Care, hosted by Dell Medical School, in May 2018. At the summit, leaders in lifestyle medicine, health care innovation and positive psychology discussed strategies for integrating positive psychology and well-being interventions into health care. This work will culminate in a white paper making recommendations for next steps by key stakeholders, including the positive psychology community. The HSPH committee aims to disseminate the recommendations and offer ongoing national awareness and training programs to advance this cause.

Dr. Lianov consults on the implementation of innovative strategies for sustainable health behavior change, including emotional well-being programs based on positive psychology and neuroscience. She is the vice-chair of the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine (leading the work to include questions on positive psychology and health in the certification exam). Also, she is a past president of ACLM and has served on the boards of both ACLM and the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM). Dr. Liana Lianov has advanced the lifestyle medicine movement in the US and internationally, including leading the first of its kind intensive lifestyle medicine curriculum. For this work, she received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from ACPM. During her tenure as the American Medical Association’s Healthy Lifestyles Division Director, she forged initiatives to support physicians in helping patients build healthy habits. She is board certified in internal medicine and preventive medicine and completed a psychiatry fellowship.

Statement of Interest:

In support of my application for president-elect of the Positive Health and Wellness Division of IPPA, I am delighted to submit the following statement of purpose.

One interventional modality that is not well-integrated into health care and is underrepresented in health education/training programs is emotional well-being, based in the principles of positive psychology. Yet the evidence is mounting that it is a critical element for securing improved health outcomes—a key lever that can support health care systems in an era shifting towards value-based care.

Emotional well-being, not only provides the underpinnings for achieving and sustaining healthy habits, but also has a direct physiologic impact. The burgeoning science of positive psychology can be harnessed in total healthy lifestyles prescriptions. Moreover, physician and other health care worker burn-out is on the rise. Personal application of empirically-supported resilience interventions and empathetic clinical encounters based in positive psychology are crucial to support the health care workforce.

As chair of the Happiness Science and Positive Health Committee of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, in conjunction with Dell Medical School, I’m leading an effort to promote the integration of emotional well-being and positive psychology interventions into health care and medicine. We convened a successful summit of leaders in lifestyle medicine and positive psychology to discuss initial strategies to promote this integration. A white paper is forthcoming and will be submitted for publication—highlighting the roles of key stakeholders, including the positive psychology community. Taking on the position of President-Elect of the Positive Health and Wellness Division would provide an exciting opportunity to advance the goals of the HSPH Committee, as well as that of the Division—which are well-aligned—by facilitating a powerful partnership between these organizations. Potential goals of this work, refining on the existing goals of the Division, would be to:

1. Promote collaboration across relevant disciplines and organizations in health care and psychology

2. Highlight the existing empirical evidence on the impact of positive psychology interventions on resilience, health and longevity

3. Elevate attention to the relevance of positive psychology interventions on health outcomes

4. Facilitate translational research and make recommendations on new lines of research critical to the implementation of positive psychology in health care and health settings more broadly

5. Support the development and publication of key research across relevant leading national and international journals in health care and psychology

6. Recommend practical strategies and guidelines for implementing positive psychology interventions into health care

7. Identify emotional well-being terms and definitions that are meaningful and consistent for effective collaboration between the positive psychology and health care communities

8. Facilitate the development of standard measures of emotional well-being

9. Kick start programs to train health care providers/health workers, develop clinical tools, highlight resources, and translate the evidence for practical application in medicine and health care

10. Advance training and mentoring of students in positive psychology in the cross cutting topics of health and health care

11. Design and implement effective strategies for integrating positive psychology interventions into a variety of health care settings

12. Influence policies that promote the adoption into standards and guidelines the evidence uncovered in positive psychology translational research

The rationale for the critical need to promote work in the area of positive psychology and health includes:

1. Facilitating patients’ health behavior change requires positive psychology and emotional well-being approaches.

2. Positive psychology interventions have direct physiologic health impacts that need to be harnessed for effective health outcomes.

3. All patients need their emotional well-being addressed for quality of life.

4. Current “standard” clinical practices fall short of leveraging the full spectrum of evidence-based positive psychology science and neuroscience.

5. Providers need training, tools and support to implement positive psychology approaches. Yes, most comprehensive medical trainings and conferences devote minimal time to emotional well-being topics.

6. Evidence-based resources that address emotional well-being can be prescribed and provided through expanding technologies (such as telemedicine, mobile apps and other digital solutions) as part of total health prescriptions.

7. Effective solutions based on positive psychology principles are urgently needed to improve provider satisfaction, patient-provider relationships, and providers’ personal health.

8. Public health initiatives have the potential to be enhanced through positive psychology approaches in an era of new crises, such as the opioid epidemic, increasing alcohol use disorders in the elderly, and the anticipated leading public health issue of loneliness.

Clearly, collaboration between the fields of positive psychology and health/medicine has tremendous potential to advance both fields and address major issues in our society. I’d be honored to have the opportunity to lead this collaborative work, in the role of President-Elect and then President.