Feature Interview

What’s the point of happiness research?

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1767 (Published 12 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1767
  1. Sophie Arie, journalist, London, UK
  1. sarie{at}bmj.com

Paul Litchfield runs the What Works Centre for Wellness, which rates evidence in an effort to influence government and corporate policy. Sophie Arie asks him about the centre’s work

The former UK prime minister David Cameron announced in 2010 that making people happy should be one of government’s main goals.1 It began measuring the nation’s happiness in 2012 and later set up the What Works Centre for Wellness to gather evidence to inform policy decisions. Paul Litchfield is the organisation’s chair.

What is the What Works Network?

“The centre is one of seven in the What Works Network, which the government created in 2013 in what it said was ‘the first time any government has taken a national approach to prioritising the use of evidence in decision-making.’2 The centres look at evidence and try to use it to inform policy at all levels, from central government to third sector organisations and companies.

“The centre works with 50 institutions—universities, think tanks, and charities—carrying out research on wellness. We collate, synthesise, and rate the research. And then we aim to translate it into a useful form that people can apply.”

How are you funded?

“We are independent but most of our funding comes from government and …

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