Corporate wellness insights

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (Part 1)

Posted by Matthew on 03.20.2017

Gallup Healthways SurveyThis is the first in a three-part series on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Today, we’ll highlight some key national trends identified in the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being report.

(In Part 2, we’ll focus on the states that rank highest and lowest in terms of well-being. Part 3 will drill down further and look at specific local communities that rank highest.)

The Gallup-Healthways Survey

Since 2008, Gallup researchers have partnered with our friends at Healthways to annually monitor and assess Americans’ level of well-being. They define well-being as consisting of five key elements:

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

(Mostly) Positive Results

There are several positive well-being trends nationally. Overall well-being in 2016 showed statistically significant gains in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index over each of the previous two years. Also, in 2016, Americans’ life evaluation reached its highest point since the study’s inception in 2008. Now 55.4% of American adults are “thriving,” compared to 48.9% in 2008.
Other positive trends in 2016 include:

  • Historically low smoking rates (at 18.0%, down from 21.1% in 2008)
  • Historically high exercise rates (as measured by those who report they exercise for 30 minutes or more during three or more days in the last week)
  • Highest scores recorded on health care access measures (including the greatest number of Americans covered by health insurance and visiting the dentist)

Americans also report the lowest rates of health care insecurity since 2008, as measured by not being able to afford necessary health care services once in the last 12 months. (The survey was published in 2017, but it was conducted in 2016, before the heated discussion over the future of the Affordable Care Act hit fever pitch.)

All national well-being trends are not positive, however. Chronic diseases such as obesity (28.4%), diabetes (11.6%) and depression (17.8%) are now at their highest points since 2008. The percentage of Americans who report eating healthy all day during the previous day is also at a nine-year low. This underscores the need for employee wellness, biometric screenings, and health coaching.

Other Key Findings

Married people report better emotional health. They have the lowest rates of depression (13.4%) and sadness (13.5%) and the highest rates of enjoyment (87.8%) and happiness (91.3%) compared to people from any other marital status. While adults with children living at home report more worry and stress on any given day, they also report more smiling, happiness, and laughter.

Millennials and the wealthy lead in exercise. Millennials exercise more than any other age group and are least likely to be obese. Those with higher incomes are more likely to exercise than those with lower incomes.

Workplace well-being metrics are on the rise. More Americans say they use their strengths daily, say their supervisor treats them like a partner, and creates a trusting and open environment than in any other year since 2008.