Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

What is health?

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 27 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4817
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor, BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

In a BMJ editorial in December 2008 Alex Jadad and Laura O’Grady called for a “global conversation” about how we define health (BMJ 2008;337:a2900). This week Jadad and colleagues present the results of that conversation, initiated via a blog on to which a good number of you responded (, and concluded at a two day meeting in the Netherlands in December 2009 (doi:10.1136/bmj.d4163). They propose a new definition of health as “the ability to adapt and self manage” in the face of social, physical, and emotional challenges.

Why should we be interested in defining health? Because if health is the goal of healthcare and research, we need to know …

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