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How is wellbeing measured: unveiling the metrics of wellness

Delve into the world of wellbeing metrics to understand how wellbeing is measured in our lives and communities
Best Practices
Written by
Hetal Sheth
Published on
October 31, 2022

Diverse methodologies and indicators involved in answering 'how is wellbeing measured,' illuminating the facets of wellness assessment.

We eat well and exercise, but there are more dimensions to positive health and well-being. Many of those dimensions we have no control over. For nonprofits and social enterprises focusing on health and well-being, capturing and measuring impact can be complex. However, robust impact measurement and management (IMM) can mean the difference between improving people’s well-being and deepening inequalities. Let’s take a look at how data can work to improve our health and well-being.

  • What are health and well-being?
  • How to Measure Health and Wellbeing
  • Better Impact Design for Health and Wellbeing
  • IMM and Wellbeing

What are health and well-being?

We all know what is healthy: eating well, exercising, resting, and drinking water. But the definition of “health” is much broader. Health also has a two-way relationship with well-being.


To separate “health” from “well-being,” some define health as the absence of disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity.” Health concerns not only your body and your mind but also your environment. Anyone who has seen pollution in a city knows that the domain is an essential determinant of health.

A broader definition of health has helped emphasize mental health's importance in recent years. There are different kinds of health: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social. Protecting and improving health often falls under healthcare systems such as public or private hospitals.


Well-being goes beyond the medical element of health. The WHO says that wellbeing “comprises an individual’s experience of their life as well as a comparison of life circumstances with social norms and values.” 

There are two dimensions to well-being: objective and subjective.

  • Objective - life circumstances such as health, education, work, social relationships, security, environment, etc.
  • Subjective - a person’s perception of life satisfaction, mental health, happiness, etc.

Health affects your well-being. When health is poor, well-being is poor, and vice versa. Good health is necessary for good well-being. 

The OECD reports that wellbeing is improving in many ways, yet profound inequalities persist. Inequities in health and well-being are inequalities in living conditions. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected millions' physical and mental health, while climate change threatens to expand inequalities in wellbeing around the globe.

How to Measure Health and Wellbeing

Public policy, nonprofit organizations, multinational organizations, and social enterprises work on many health and well-being interventions.

Because well-being is complex and holistic, measuring it is challenging. The OECD estimates 12 dimensions: income, work, housing, and health. Then it compares them across gender, age, and education. In Bhutan, they created a measure called Gross National Happiness (GNP) rather than GDP. In addition, there are methods such as Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment (MWIA) in the health field.

Better Impact Design for Health and Wellbeing

Health and wellbeing initiatives can have a significant impact on individual lives. Capturing health and wellbeing impact data is complex. Often, nonprofits and social enterprises aren’t collecting the correct data. Data collection stops at outputs such as:

  • Number of clients that attended therapy
  • Number of clients seen in the clinic
  • Number of blood pressure screens

These measurements don’t help organizations understand how their stakeholders benefit from their programs. Not knowing what effect your programs are having leads to issues like:

  • Targeting the wrong stakeholders
  • Offering faulty services to the stakeholders
  • Not making the impact you intended

If health and wellbeing initiatives are not providing efficient benefits to stakeholders, the programs risk exacerbating health inequalities rather than bridging them.

Impact Measurement and Wellbeing

With strong impact measurement and management, health and wellbeing organizations can connect with stakeholders to understand what benefits they are experiencing. IMM demonstrates impact and is a powerful tool to help organizations scale that impact.

The complex dimensions of health and well-being make centralized data critical. Unfortunately, data scattered across spreadsheets and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms is a reporting burden for nonprofits and social enterprises. With IMM done right, centralized data, analysis, and visualization give health and well-being organizations real-time impact data. This data helps organizations improve the health and well-being of their stakeholders.

Data Can Drive Health and Wellbeing
Data has been a critical part of health interventions since the beginning of social policy. For nonprofits and social enterprises that don’t have the evaluation abilities of the WHO or CDC, robust impact measurement is still possible. The health and well-being of social enterprises and nonprofits must have the correct data to grow their impact. Contact Sopact to start your impact journey, or learn more on our blog.

Learn More: Impact Metrics

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