National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health

Información en Español

Health Topics A-Z

NCCIH Research Blog

New Report Reflects NCCIH Research Interest in Emotional Well-being

October 17, 2018
Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.
Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.

Director, Division of Extramural Research
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
View Dr. Edwards' biographical sketch

Today, I’m pleased to tell you about an exciting new direction at NCCIH for advancing our prevention research portfolio.  

One of the objectives in both NIH’s and NCCIH’s current strategic plans is to “foster health promotion and disease prevention.” At the Center, we pursue this objective by seeking to build knowledge of how complementary approaches could be useful across the life span to encourage better self-care, a healthy lifestyle, and the sense of well-being. Wellness, according to surveys, is a major reason that people turn to complementary approaches. 

An aspect of this topic on which there is widespread interest, yet a lack of fundamental scientific knowledge, is emotional well-being. What is meant by that term? According to one report, it’s “an overall positive state of a person’s emotions, life satisfactions, sense of meaning and purpose, and ability to pursue self-defined goals. [The] elements include a sense of balance in emotion, thoughts, social relationships, and pursuits.”1  These constructs and their relative importance can vary across different population subgroups and stages of life. 

As part of NCCIH’s initial exploration of this topic, we cosponsored, with the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, a roundtable meeting in April 2018. Our planning partners were four other components of NIH (NIA, NICHD, NIDA, and NIMH), and our cochairs were two leading experts, Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Bruce McEwen of the Rockefeller University. You may find the meeting report—just posted!—of interest. Participants discussed the state of the science, identified research opportunities and gaps for NIH’s consideration, and proposed a strategy for moving the field forward (e.g., a trans-NIH research program has been created). Ten current, successful models of programs fostering resilience were examined.  

Recently, in its October 5 meeting, the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health evaluated and approved a research concept to advance the study of emotional well-being, through the establishment of research networks. The aspects of emotional well-being of the most interest are its ontology; mechanisms; biomarkers; impact, especially with regard to prevention; and related outcome measurement and tools. 

This research topic is a new one for us, but very important. It aligns with stakeholder and government interest in improving wellness and increasing resilience across the Nation. We look forward to updating you further, through this research blog, our e-mail updates, and social media. You may also find our Wellness and Well-being portal (which includes a video clip of Drs. McEwen and Davidson) of interest. 

For More Information

1Community Translational Science Team. Building a Public Health Model for Promoting Emotional Well-Being. Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles. 2016.


Comments are now closed for this post.

What I believe to be an urgent need is the evaluation of emotional well being on those affected by those who engage in substance abuse, opiates, alcohol, meth ect. The devastating financial costs adds to the catastrophic loss of resources for those to be able to afford therapuatic interventions.

Great!I’m a professor doctor, endocrinology, in Brasil, FIOCRUZ, a governmental institution, and I would like very much to stay  a 6 months period in a service like yours or similar in Boston or NY, and research well beeing and humanities. How could I talk about this with you?Congratulations Lizanka Marinheiro, Md , PhD.

[commercial link removed, per policy]

Speaking from personal experience, I have found that a higher than usual Vitamin D-3 blood level has made a big difference in my life.  It has positive emotionaol effects and is instrumental in maintaining good health.  The Vitamin D Council recommends a blood level of 40 - 60 ng/mL year round.  Unless you live in the deep south, it is not possible to maintain this level without supplementation.  I supplement with 10,000 iu’s per day  and take Vitamin K-2, MK-7 to keep calcium in the blood and out of the soft tissues. The U.S governemt only recommends a level of 20 ng/mL which is inadequate and really perilous to anyone trying to remain healthy.  Vitamin D is a seco-steriod hormone which turns genes on and off and aids in DNA repair.  It is too important to negliglect or short change.  The government needs to raise their recommended levels to match the Vitamin D Council which is the authority on Vitamin D.

I am always impressed with the work that NCCIH Research is doing. I totally support the alternative route and wish more people understood and accepted that healing is possible. I shrank by 2mm a brain tumor following work put out by Dr. Adam McLeod, a Canadian physician. I have worked with Hai Yang, a Qi Gong specialist in Montreal, Canada; Dr. Darren Weissman who does LifeLine healing; Dr. Larry Stoler who is a clinical psychologist who does Qi Gong healing and now am working with a Cherokee Shaman. All of these methods need to be researched and documented so that people will seek out healing over drugs and surgery. My wish is that NCCIH will be as respected and fully funded as other departments at NIH. 

I am so pleased to learn of this new research area as it crosses over into all medical fields of interest. As an advocate and parent of a two time cancer survivor, and an avid advocate for the “ emotional wellbeing “ if the  patient and caregivers, and a practitioner of mind body techniques- I look forward to reading your research in the future. 

Grateful to read that NIH and NCCIH are interested in Life-time Wellness  1. Please include Reiki among the complimentary approaches NIH studies. While at NIH during a one year period, I witnessed the ability of Reiki practice to improve the well-being of numerous patients and care-givers. There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that Reiki practice diminshes anxiety (extremely useful before bone marrow biopsies and c-scans!), stress and restores balance, promoting the body’s ability to heal itself. It is complementary to all other treatments and medication. Reiki is offered among the complementary care services at NIH - but your reserach dr. must provide the referral- which from my experience - was only likely if you were already familiar with Reiki and thought to request it. The fact it is offered shows an awareness of its benefits- so why not take it one step further include it in the research? 2. Please consider also including “Therapeutic Writing” into your study as well. There are many proven writing techniques each of us can use (individually or in a group) to manage our emotions, gain clarity and define goals. Both Reiki and Writing for Wellness and Well-being are practices that are beneficial throughout our life time - whether we are sick or well. And both cost nothing! 

@Lisa3plus2 Thanks for the input. We hear your concern that caregivers, family, and friends are also affected by those who have an opioid use disorder.

@M Thank you for your comment. Rigorous research on complementary health approaches requires well-established methodology, including valid, reliable, and relevant research tools and outcome measures. You can learn more about our research directions in the strategic plan.

This page last modified October 18, 2018