Publication Date



Despite the increased focus on wellness and wellness programs there is still no consensus as to what wellness is. This is in part because programs do not define wellness and in part because studies and programs employ vastly different outcome measures that arguably reflect other constructs such as health, well-being, and quality of life. In this paper, we suggest an operational understanding of wellness and show how wellness differs from health, quality of life and wellbeing. Academic literature on the subject of health, wellness, well-being and quality of life reveals confusion, as theorists and researchers frequently describe each of these constructs in a very similar manner. We argue that elements such as the context and target population in which the term wellness is used are critical for our understanding of the construct. While it is inevitable that cross-over exists between similar constructs, wellness does have distinctly identifiable features. These include: being both holistic and multidimensional, being focused on lifestyle behaviours, being about actions or processes, recognising the inter-relatedness between person and environment, and being unique by way of goal and context.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

Access Rights

Open Access