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Aetna and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health launch five-year well-being research initiative

April 03, 2018 | Health Insurance

HARTFORD, Conn. — Aetna today announced a multi-year research collaboration with faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The goal of the research will be to study the determinants of well-being, correlations to population health and productivity, and ways to enhance total well-being. Working together, researchers at Aetna and Harvard will gather data across six dimensions – physical health, emotional health, social connectedness, financial security, purpose and character strengths.

“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. VanderWeele is jointly leading the project with Eileen McNeely, PhD, RN, an instructor and co-director of the Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School.

“Engagement and productivity are driven by several dimensions of well-being, and physical health is just one of many factors,” said Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S., 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.”

Pilot Program with Aetna Employees

In preparation for this research, Aetna is piloting a new proprietary well-being assessment with a select group of Aetna employees. Using this feedback, Aetna will refine the program before rolling it out to a larger group of employees.

Ultimately, each participant will receive personalized and confidential results after taking the assessment. These results will be used to create a holistic well-being improvement plan for each individual. All data will be shared between Aetna and Harvard with no individually identifying information. Over time, the researchers at Harvard Chan School will be able to draw new insights into the determinants of well-being, assess the effectiveness of various interventions and programs, and inform the development of new tools to promote well-being.

“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.”

The research collaboration agreement was established in coordination with Harvard’s Office of Technology Development.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 37.9 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see

Media Contact:

Ethan Slavin