New study to better understand factors affecting wellness in Singapore

Researchers led by Associate Professor Rob van Dam have begun a study on the mental well-being of people in Singapore in order to promote wellness.
Researchers led by Associate Professor Rob van Dam have begun a study on the mental well-being of people in Singapore in order to promote wellness. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Picture this: Two people are suffering from the same chronic illness. While one has a positive outlook on the situation, the other thinks it is the "end of the world".

Noting that this observation does not arise from the illness and has nothing to do with the associated symptoms, Associate Professor Chua Hong Choon, chief executive officer of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), said at a media briefing on Tuesday (May 30): "We are trying to understand this phenomenon... what gives people wellness on top of their illness."

This is what a team of five researchers, led by Associate Professor Rob van Dam, domain leader of epidemiology at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, is hoping to uncover in the four-year-long Singapore Wellness Study.

"We want to find out the factors that improve wellness and increase and promote them," added Professor Chia Kee Seng, Dean of Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

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The study, involving some 10,000 participants from the multi-ethnic cohort of the school's Singapore Population Health Studies, will be conducted through a questionnaire, interviews, and physical examinations.

Some of the survey questions will include, "How confident are you that you can overcome obstacles?" and "During the last two weeks, how often did you feel content?"

When the survey is completed by 2021, the team hopes to present its findings to the Government to inform public health policies and improve wellness among people here.

"A systematic and detailed study of the wellness of the local population can help provide insights to address key problems and proactively initiate preventive measures," said co-investigator Associate Professor Mythily Subramaniam, director of the research division at IMH.