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127: The Stanford WELL for Life Scale with Sandi Winter and Julia Gustafson

Sandi & Julia-bio-pic

We frequently throw around the word wellbeing but don’t always define what wellbeing means to the population we’re serving. The fact is that what drives my wellbeing is different than what drives your wellbeing. This makes it really tough to address true wellbeing in the workplace because there are not only multiple factors to consider but we all value these factors differently.

As health professionals, we also like to place people in neat and tidy categories, like healthy, at risk or high risk/chronic. But wellbeing is much more complex than simply putting labels on people. As one of today’s guests said,

“Just because you’re physically healthy doesn’t mean you have a high level of wellbeing and just because you’re terminally ill doesn’t mean you have a low level of wellbeing.”

Today’s guests are Sandi Winter and Julia Gustafson. Sandi Winter, PhD, MHA, is the Director of the WELL for Life research initiative (WELL) and a Social Science Research Scholar at the Stanford Prevention Research Center (SPRC). Julia works as the Director of Community Engagement for Stanford WELL for Life where she strives to empower local communities and organizations to adopt and promote a culture of holistic well-being.

In this interview, we discuss their roles at WELL for Life, the research they conducted to further understand wellbeing from a diverse perspective and the 10 areas of wellbeing they found. Sandi and Julia walk us through how the WELL for Life scale is used today in worksites, the user experience plus some free resources available to those who take the assessment.

Foundational funding for the Stanford Wellness Living Laboratory (WELL) was generously provided via an unrestricted gift through the Nutrilite Health Institute Wellness Fund.

Interview Highlights:
  • [9:46] The overview of what WELL for Life does and when/why it was established.
  • [13:20] What was missing from the current wellbeing research and the first steps they took to conceptualize wellbeing.
  • [15:46] Why their measure of wellbeing has both positive and negative attributes to it.
  • [20:18] The 10 interrelated areas of wellbeing found in their research.
  • [25:44] Their research goals and the cohort they’re following.
  • [27:45] How the WELL for Life scale is used in the worksite.
  • [35:39] The impact of the value individuals place on their results.
  • [37:56] The free challenges available after the assessment is completed.
Mentioned:

SuperShelf (mentioned in the Intro)

WELL for Life: https://med.stanford.edu/wellforlife.html

Full Bio:

Sandra Winter, PhD, MHA, is the Director of the WELL for Life research initiative (WELL) and a Social Science Research Scholar at the Stanford Prevention Research Center (SPRC). The goal of WELL is to build the scientific evidence base about well-being using observational, interventional and bio-sampling approaches conducted on a global scale.

Sandi was born and raised in Zimbabwe, then moved to Cape Town, South Africa where she was a successful entrepreneur. In 2003 Sandi moved to Lexington, Kentucky where she completed a Master of Health Administration (May, 2006) and a PhD in Public Administration (Health Policy Track) (December, 2009) at the University of Kentucky. In 2009 Sandi moved to California and joined SPRC.

Sandi’s research interests include: wellbeing, community-based interventions among under resourced populations to reduce health disparities; the impact of the environment on health and well-being; and the use of technology to promote improvements in health behaviors.

Julia Gustafson, population health enthusiast to the core, believes in the power of communities.

In her professional life, Julia has worked on many community-wide initiatives including championing and creating partnerships with the Minnesota DNR, regional and local parks, to create the first Parks Rx in Minnesota—which recently received a 2018 Minnesota State Government Innovation Award.

A believer that “health isn’t a privilege”—Julia assisted in creating a behavioral economics intervention model for food shelves, known as SuperShelf.  When implemented, SuperShelf changes the environment of food shelves to one that is both dignifying to people and prioritizes healthier foods.

In her academic life, Julia has been awarded grants that allowed her to study the relationship between education and happiness among children with disabilities in Kerala, India. She also conducted cost sustainability analyses for food shelves that participated in SuperShelf. Her current interest is studying the relationship between the built environment and individual well-being.

Julia now works as the Director of Community Engagement for Stanford WELL for Life where she strives to empower local communities and organizations to adopt and promote a culture of holistic well-being.

 

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