Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Debora R. Baldwin, Subimal Datta

Committee Members

David R. Bassett Jr., Jacob J. Levy

Abstract

The maintenance and promotion of wellness proves to be vital to health. Over the years, existing literature has de-emphasized the contributions of objective health to the phenomenon of wellness, and has emphasized subjectively measured wellness concepts. However, due to the complexity of wellness and its importance in regard to individual and societal health, it is imperative to examine wellness not only from a subjective basis, but also in conjunction with objective explorations. A uniform index of wellness should be established in order to reduce the ambiguity associated with the concept. Therefore, this paper had two major aims that were addressed in three experiments testing college students’ self-report and physiological responses. Aim 1 was to develop a wellness model useful in a wide array of research domains. This was done through rigorous testing of components of my proposed Oliver Health Factor Wellness. Aim 2 was to establish an objective measure of wellness. This was done by correlating subjective wellness responses to wellness measures with objective physiological activity indicative of health. More specifically, I assessed Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) function as a means to explore the health and wellness status of individuals. In this paper, I addressed these aims and posit that my findings will advance scientific knowledge regarding a more steadfast way to measure wellness from an objective standpoint, as well as, a way to evaluate the efficacy of a given therapy by examination of changes in function/autonomic balance. In addition, my findings suggest a more reliable way to measure wellness, specifically, with its inclusion of ANS parameters. Finally, my findings suggest that Heart Rate Variability, in particular, can be utilized as an objective index of Holistic wellness and Optimum Health.

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