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Sharing insights: Positive health a different view on health


Paulien Vermunt ,

Vilans, NL
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Machteld Huber,

Institute for Positive Health, NL
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Cynthia Hofman

Vilans, NL
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Background: In many healthcare systems, integrated care is seen as a possible solution to the growing demand for improved patient experiences and health outcomes of patients with multiple chronic conditions or long-term care patients. There are many definitions of integrated care, one of them is a user led definition “My care is planned with people who work together to understand me and my carers, put me in control, coordinate and deliver services to achieve my best outcomes”.1

A holistic view, thus considering the whole person, leads to better outcomes. Assessment of the individual’s needs enables a tailored approach to treatment options that are relevant to the individual’s goals. The concept Positive Health is one way of assessing one’s needs on various health domains. The concept was introduced by Machteld Huber et al. They defined health as “the ability to adapt and to self-manage, in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges”.2

This definition maximizes the role of the human capacity to cope autonomously with life’s ever changing physical, emotional, and social challenges and to function with fulfilment and a feeling of wellbeing despite  chronic disease or disability.

In the Netherlands “Positive Health” is currently embraced as a strong motivational mindset. In 2016 the Institute for Positive Health and Vilans started the Positive Health transformation program, focussing on “How” to use the concept in daily practice. Today, we gained experience with implementing this inspiring view on health in long-term care facilities for the elderly.

Aims and Objectives: The aims of this Network Discussion are to: illustrate the elements of the transformation program and give examples of how organizations use the concept of Positive health in daily practice; and understand the rationale and implications of using the concept of Positive Health.

Format: Discussion leaders: Paulien Vermunt, Consultant Positive Health, Vilans; Cynthia Hofman, Researcher Person-centred care, Vilans; project leader who worked with Positive Health: TBC

In this Network discussion recent experiences on the use of the concept Positive Health will be presented and its strengths and limitations will be discussed. Participants will be asked to fill in the self-assessment tool “Mijn Positieve Gezondheid” in English: My Positive Health and discuss their results in couples. Starting from this broad self-reflection on health and well-being, there will be a plenary discussion on the implications of patient-centred care in general and Positive Health specifically for health services.

Target audience: Any healthcare professional from early to senior career level, educationalists, policy makers, managers, patients/caregivers, students wishing to learn more about the concept Positive Health and its’ implications are welcome to attend.

Learnings/Take away: To explore a new definition of health by discussing the concept of Positive Health;

To experience how Positive Health changes your own mindset by using the self-assessment tool;

To engage in activities that develop a different view on your patients “Seeing the person behind the patient”.


1- World Health Organization Europe, Integrated care models: An overview. Working document, October 2016

2-  M Huber et al., How should we define health? British Medical Journal, 2011 

How to Cite: Vermunt P, Huber M, Hofman C. Sharing insights: Positive health a different view on health. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2018;18(s2):91. DOI:
Published on 23 Oct 2018.


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