Adopting a holistic framework for health that includes mental, social, spiritual and physical aspects can lead to benefits in longevity and quality of life, according to a new report.
of McKinsey Health Institute conducted a global survey of 1,000 respondents in each of 19 countries to understand how communities around the world define health and what factors influence it.
The results showed that all dimensions of health matter, and that the feeling of health is not limited to the absence or presence of disease. The results, according to the report’s authors, show that people around the world can focus more on how they can live full and functional lives.
Overall, 85% of respondents rated mental and physical health as very or extremely important, while 70% rated social health the same, followed by 62% ranking spiritual health as very or extremely important.
In terms of age groups, similar proportions of younger and older respondents ranked physical and mental health as important, while social and spiritual health were rated less important by older respondents.
The presence of illness did not always correspond to perceptions of health. More than 40% of respondents who reported having a disease still perceived their health as good or very good, while 20% without a disease reported being in good, poor, or very poor health.
Age also did not correlate with health perceptions. Among those aged 75 to 84, 60% reported good or very good overall health, while 70% of those aged 18 to 24 reported the same. In the United States, the findings were similar.
Older age groups scored higher than younger groups on several health dimensions, particularly mental health. This finding is consistent with several recent studies that note that members of Generation Z report lower mental health, according to the report’s authors.
In most countries, including the United States, higher household income was associated with higher health perceptions.
Family and friends provide the highest level of health support across countries, genders and age groups, even more than public or private healthcare systems, the results showed. Overall, people with an illness reported lower health support in all categories.
The survey found that people who reported low levels of health support were more likely to get sick. Other studies in the United States and Australia found that loneliness, social isolation and a lack of social support in the elderly significantly increase the risk of premature death from all causes.
The authors concluded that if individuals, businesses and countries expand their understanding of health, they can realize benefits in longevity and quality of life.