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Aetna, Harvard Partner for Population Health Research Initiative

Aetna and the Harvard T.H. Chan School for Public Health will launch a five-year research collaboration to study the determinants of population health.

Aetna and Harvard will partner for a population health initiative

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- Aetna will partner with the Harvard T.H. Chan School for Public Health for a five-year research collaborative that will study the determinants of well-being and their correlation to population health and productivity.

Researchers from both organizations will gather data across six domains, including physical health, emotional health, social connectedness, financial security, purpose, and character strengths. They will use their findings to discover new ways to enhance population wellness.

“This project will generate a uniquely rich data set on well-being that could tremendously inform the way we understand public health and well-being,” said Tyler VanderWeele, PhD, the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School and director of Harvard’s Program on Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing.

In preparation for this project, Aetna will pilot its own well-being assessment with a select group of Aetna employees.

Each participant will receive personalized and confidential results after taking the assessment, which will be used to create a holistic well-being improvement plan for each individual. Aetna and Harvard will share all data, with no individually identifying information included.

Over time, researchers at Harvard will be able to draw new insights into the determinants of well-being, evaluate the effectiveness of different interventions and programs, and help develop new tools that will encourage well-being.

Aetna will use the feedback from this initial assessment to refine the program and eventually expand it to include more employees.

“Individuals with a strong sense of well-being have been found to be healthier, happier and more productive, have lower health care costs and turnover rates, and perform at higher levels,” said Kay Mooney, Vice President of Employee Benefits & Well-being for Aetna.

“Through this new initiative, we will develop a customized approach for each individual, allowing us to join employees where they are on their personal well-being journeys.”

Ultimately, the collaboration between Harvard and Aetna will aim to give researchers a better understanding of the many elements that contribute to population health and wellness.

“Engagement and productivity are driven by several dimensions of well-being, and physical health is just one of many factors,” said Harold L. Paz, MD, MS, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Aetna.

“Our work with faculty at the Harvard Chan School will provide us with a wealth of data on this subject, allowing us to enhance our strategy and create innovative new programs that can help improve the well-being of those we serve.”

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