Is subjective wellbeing associated with depression? A cross-sectional survey in southeast England

Lagnado, A M, Gilchrist, K, Cvancarova Smastuen, M and Memon, Anjum (2017) Is subjective wellbeing associated with depression? A cross-sectional survey in southeast England. In: European Public Health Conference, 1-4 November 2017, Stockholm.

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Subjective wellbeing (SW) is a construct that aims to explain people’s self-reported thoughts and feelings about various aspects of their life. The concept is now increasingly used by governments and policy makers as one of the key measures of societal progress, and to inform and direct social and public health policy. There is little information on the possible impact of low SW on mental health conditions. We examined data from a population-based cross-sectional survey to assess possible association between SW and major depression.


The study used data from the health and wellbeing survey (n=2035) conducted in Brighton and Hove in 2012. SW was determined according to the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) validated measures/questions on life satisfaction, fulfilment, happiness and anxiety; and prevalence of major depression was determined by using the standard Short Form Survey Instrument (SF-36). Data were modeled using multiple logistic regression and the results are presented as adjusted odds ratio (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence interval (95% CI).


In the multivariate analysis, all the four ONS validated measures of SW were significantly associated with the prevalence of major depression: low life satisfaction (OR=2.9, 95% CI: 2.1-3.9), unfulfillment (OR=2.4, 95% CI: 1.8-3.2), unhappiness (OR=1.7, 95% CI: 1.3-2.3), anxiety (OR=2.9, 95% CI: 2.3-3.6). Overall, individuals with low SW were about 2 times more likely to report prevalence of major depression.


This study shows that there is a strong association between low (self-reported) SW and prevalence of major depression. Further studies are needed to ascertain the impact of low SW on other mental health conditions. Considering that major depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and a key contributor to the risk of suicide and ischemic heart disease, our findings highlight the importance and benefits of improving SW in individuals and populations.

Key messages

• Low (self-reported) subjective wellbeing is strongly associated with major depression.

• Subjective wellbeing can be measured effectively to inform the development of social and public health policy to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and populations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Primary Care and Public Health
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0790 Mental health. Mental illness prevention
Depositing User: Anjum Memon
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2017 14:01
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2018 15:41
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