1st Edition

Routledge International Handbook of Positive Health Sciences Positive Psychology and Lifestyle Medicine Research, Theory and Practice

    360 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This ground-breaking book combines research and practice in the rapidly growing field of Positive Psychology with the fastest-growing medical speciality of Lifestyle Medicine.

    Section 1 maps out the new field of positive health by exploring the scope, content and architecture of this rapidly emerging area of research. It explores research findings and applications derived from Lifestyle Medicine and Positive Psychology that are critical for positive health. Section 2 delves into positive health research, covering topics such as using character strengths to improve health, maximising psychological wellbeing from head to toe, optimising gut health and understanding the relationships between mind and body. Section 3 offers guidance on applying the principles of positive health by describing new Positive Health Interventions (PHIs), introducing innovative positive health coaching models and exploring the contribution of positive psychology to health equity.

    The book is ideal for medical doctors, nurses and health professionals interested in helping their patients flourish psychologically and physically. It is an invaluable guide for social workers, positive psychologists, coaches and mental health professionals who want to explore the physiological dimensions of wellbeing.

    List of figures

    List of tables

    List of editors

    List of contributors


    PART I

    Mapping out the field of Positive Health

    1 Positive health: An Emerging New Construct

    Ciaran A. O’Boyle, Liana Lianov, Jolanta Burke, Beth Frates and Ilona Boniwell

    2 Lifestyle medicine breakthroughs

    Gia Merlo and Gabrielle Bachtel

    3 Positive psychology breakthroughs

    Ilona Boniwell


    Positive health research

    4 Flourishing from head to toe: An interdisciplinary approach

    Dianne Vella-Brodrick and Annelise Gill

    5 Character strengths and positive health

    Dorota Weziak-Bialowolska, Piotr Bialowolski and Ryan M. Niemiec

    6 Do our relationships make us healthier? Physiological correlates of social connections and close relationships

    Cagla Sanri and Aaron Jarden

    7 The power of positive emotions

    Trudy Meehan

    8 Resilient grieving: How can the field of positive health better support those coping with loss?

    Lucy C. Hone, Tiffani Clingin and Brigitte Lavoie

    9 Optimism, a conceptual complexity but a health resource?

    Charles Martin-Krumm

    10 Psychobiotics, gut health and the promise of positive psychology

    Pádraic J. Dunne


    Positive health applications

    11 Applications to self/self-care/self-coaching, role-modelling

    Beth Frate

    12 Positive health interventions: An emerging concept

    Jolanta Burke, Pádraic J. Dunne and Elaine Byrne

    13 People may have many wishes but if they lose their health, they only have one wish, to become healthy again

    Dóra Guðrún Guðmundsdóttir and Svala Sigurðardóttir

    14 Positive health coaching: Adopting a dialogical approach to health and wellbeing

    Christian van Nieuwerburgh and Jim Knight

    15 Person・nature fit: Fostering well-being through nature

    Annalisa Setti and Tadhg Mac Intyre

    16 Arts as medicine: Using art interventions to promote health and wellbeing

    Andrea Giraldez-Hayes

    17 Digital positive health Platforms, supported by artificial intelligence, measured using wearable devices

    Jennifer Donnelly, Pádraic J. Dunne, Justin Laiti, Croía Loughnane and Róisín O’Donovan

    18 Motivation; the self, the stick, and the carrot

    Ciara Scott and Karen Morgan

    19 Positive psychology for health equity

    Qadira M. Ali, Alyssa Vela and David Bowman

    20 Applying positive psychology and the pillars of lifestyle medicine

    Liana Lianov


    Jolanta Burke is a Chartered Psychologist and Senior Lecturer (US: Associate Professor) at the Centre for Positive Health, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ireland.

    Ilona Boniwell is a Professor of Positive Psychology at the University of East London and the original founder of the UEL’s MSc in Applied Positive Psychology.

    Beth Frates is a trained physiatrist and a health and wellness coach, with expertise in Lifestyle Medicine and an award-winning teacher at Harvard Medical School.

    Liana S. Lianov serves as lead faculty for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Physician and Health Professional Wellbeing course and Chair of the ACLM Happiness Science and Positive Health Committee.

    Ciaran A. O’Boyle is a Professor of Psychology at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Founding Director of the RCSI Centre for Positive Health Sciences.

    “This landmark book establishes positive health science as a new field.  The field is concerned with promoting sustainable, positive, healthy lifestyles. This handbook is written by a team of international experts who integrate theory, research, and practices from lifestyle medicine and positive psychology.  It will be of interest to students, academics, and practitioners in medicine, nursing, psychology, psychotherapy, coaching, education, and allied healthcare professions.”

    Alan Carr, PhD

    Professor of Clinical Psychology, University College Dublin, Ireland

    Author of “Positive psychology: The Science of Wellbeing and Human Strengths.”


    This is a truly informative, remarkable book written by experts from throughout the world.  It was very heartening to read chapters that reflected and validated my own journey as a clinical psychologist that began with a focus on pathology and “deficits” and moved to a strength-based approach—an approach that highlights each individual’s passions, interests. and “islands of competence,” and prioritizes the nurturing of resilience and healthy lifestyle choices as a major task in our lives. 

    I was impressed by many, many features of this book, including the clarity with which the concepts of lifestyle medicine, positive psychology, and positive health are described and integrated, the comprehensiveness with which different themes related to these concepts are detailed, and, very importantly, the discussion of a variety of realistic interventions to promote our physical and emotional well-being.  There are some books that are written primarily for the professional/scientific community, while others for the lay public.  This book will certainly have an enthusiastic audience of professionals from many different disciplines, both clinicians and researchers.  Given its subject matter and readability I also believe it will garner a great deal of interest from the lay public.  It will become a major resource, to be read and re-read by a diverse audience, all of whom appreciate the importance of understanding and implementing practices related to a positive health model.  I recommend this book very highly.

    Robert Brooks, Ph.D., Faculty, Harvard Medical School (part-time)

    Co-author: The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life; Co-author: Reflections on Mortality: Insights into Meaningful Living.


    I love this book so much I want to embrace it and kiss it; I want to send it to everyone I know, as well as everyone I don’t know, which means the entire population of our precious planet; I want to shout from the rooftops, “At last, a book that gets it! Masquerading as a respectable volume of scholarly prose, this book, when unmasked, dances up and down the avenues in delight, its shockingly naked pages thrilling all who read them with an entirely new, breathtakingly spot-on approach to health and life!”

    Not only will you love this book and find yourself nodding on every page, you will want your doctor to read it and your best friend; you’ll read passages aloud in bed to whomever you sleep with, even your dog; you’ll want to jump for joy and share the simultaneously revolutionary and time-honored wisdom displayed, in keeping with good taste, modestly, without the fuss and fanfare it deserves. Instead, the authors let the truth, the unadorned truth, come out of the shadows where Medicine has kept it hidden for centuries, and speak for itself, indeed sing.”

    Edward Hallowell, MD, USA

    Author of “Driven to Distraction” and “ADHD 2.0”


    "It is with great enthusiasm that I endorse your newly edited book on Positive Health, which stands as a testament to the collective wisdom and expertise of its distinguished contributors. This remarkable addition to the esteemed "Routledge International Handbooks" series offers a comprehensive exploration of positive health, empowering readers with invaluable insights and practical guidance to foster well-being and thrive in today's complex world”

    Gökmen Arslan, PhD, Turkey

    Associated Professor, Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, Burdur, Turkey

    Centre for Wellbeing Science, The University of Melbourne, Australia


    If you are interested in going beyond a reductionist, illness-centered view of health in your personal life, clinical practice, and academic activities, this is the handbook you were waiting for. Combining theoretical and applied knowledge from lifestyle medicine and positive psychology, the panel of eminent authors set the stage for the new science of positive health to the benefit of people and society as a whole.

    Prof. Marta Bassi PhD, Professor of General Psychology at the Medical Faculty, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy; Current President of the European Network of Positive Psychology; Co-author of “Psychological Selection and Optimal Experience Across Cultures. Social Empowerment through Personal Growth”


    Positive health, thriving in life well beyond the absence of disease. A symbiosis of positive psychology and lifestyle medicine, that offers effective prevention and treatment of chronic disease. This may help to solve many health issues in the world. This book is presented by world experts covering science and theories of positive psychology and lifestyle medicine; applying this evidence to life and clinical practice with wonderful practical how to examples and smart summaries for each section.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to be healthy

    Prof. Robert Kelly, Consultant Cardiology and Lifestyle Medicine, University College Dublin Beacon Hospital


    What does it really mean to have health in abundance? And how might we recast our understanding of what health really is? This work answers those questions, among many others and it represents a leap forward in shaping the way we might focus our efforts in healthcare. The international writing team has successfully drawn together systemic principles, a unified concept of mental and physical health, emergent technologies and a deep humanity to uncover what is possible for individual and collective health. Regardless of your role in healthcare, this book will speak to you.

    Simon Matthews, MHlthSc, FASLM, MAPS, DipIBLM, NBC-HWC

    Adjunct Faculty, Avondale University Lifestyle Medicine and Health Research Centre

    Faculty, Wellcoaches School of Coaching, Producer of Tiny Health Stories: https://www.tinyhealthstories.online


    "The field of positive health has been gathering evidence for several decades and is slowly cementing itself in the popular and professional imagination as an essential and effective contribution to global health. This volume, edited and authored by international experts, is a vital, contemporary and comprehensive call to all who wish for and work towards a healthier planet."

    Roger Bretherton, PhD

    Associate Professor in Psychology, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom


    “This text on Positive Health is timely for a topic that is relevant to those interested in and working in the health care sector - those who give of themselves so generously to support other’s health and wellbeing.  A go-to text for health and wellbeing science students and practitioners who work in this meaningful field.”

    Suzie Green, PhD

    Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of Psychology, University of East London and Founder of The Positivity Institute


    “This book is exactly the authentic educational experience that reminds us of the inexplicable foundation of dynamic well-being - positive health.” 

     Joe Raphael, DrPH, FACLM, MBA, MA, LMFT, CHES, HAPM, President, Irvine Christian Counseling and San Diego Christian Counseling,  Board Member, Global Positive Health Institute