Salutogenesis, the origin of health, is a stress resource orientated concept, wich focuses
on resources, maintains and improves the movement towards health. It gives the answer
why people despite stressful situations and hardships stay well. It is the opposite of the
pathogenic concept where the focus is on the obstacles and deficits.
The Salutogenic model for health, i.e. the study of health and determinants of
health in the human context, is the main research objective of the Health Promotion
Research Programme. Core areas of research are mental health promotion, life span
research, health literacy and healthy learning.
After five years research we are able to state, with confidence, that people and systems
that develop the ability to implement the salutogenic way of living will not only live longer
but perceive they are in good health, enjoy a better quality of life and mental wellbeing.
In addition, they can stand stress better than the average and have more constructive
health behaviours. Even if they become ill or get a chronic disease they will do better than
Two core concepts are essential in the salutogenic theory (Antonovsky 1979, 1987),
the Sense of Coherence (SOC) and the Generalized Resistance Resources (GRRs).
The Sense of Coherence
The ability to comprehend the whole of a stressful situation and the capacity to use the resources available was called sense of coherence (SOC). SOC reflects a person’s view of life and capacity to respond to stressful situations. It is a global orientation to view the life as structured, manageable, and meaningful or coherent. It is a personal way of thinking, being, and acting, with an inner trust, which leads people to identify, benefit, use, and re-use the resources at their disposal. Three elements - comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness, forms the SOC.
The Generalized Resistance Resources
The other key factors are the resources available to make such a movement towards health possible. The GRRs can be found within people as resources bound to their person and capacity but also to their immediate and distant environment as of both material and non-material qualities from the person to the whole society. The key factor is not what is available but to be able to use and re-use them for the intended purpose. The GRRs provide a person with sets of meaningful and coherent life experiences thanks to the resources at the person’s disposal.
Research Synthesis on Salutogenesis
The first step of reviewing the whole salutogenic research area was finalized by publishing "Eriksson M, Unravelling the Mystery of Salutogenesis" in 2007. This research synthesis gives the evidence base of the salutogenic research as measured by Antonovsky's Sense of Coherence (SOC) scale in 1992-2003. The analysis of additional studies 2004 and further continues. Read more under Research synthesis.
Salutogenesis is more than measuring SOC
There are several approaches to salutogenesis, theories and concepts with salutogenic dimensions. See Related concepts.