An Interview With Grant Donovan on Varied Matters Relating to Wellness REAL and Otherwise


I recently asked Dr. Grant Donovan, one of the earliest promoters of corporate wellness and health promotion, questions about the early years. Here are over a dozen of the questions I put to Dr. Donovan:

1) In what ways was Australia unlike the U.S. for purposes of trying to establish a wellness movement?

2) If you had remained in the wellness business, how might you have expanded upon the wonderful concepts advanced in the early years (mid-80's and 90's) when you led Australian conferences, training sessions, wrote books, gave media interviews and engaged in all manner of promotional efforts?

3) Based on your memories of those not-quite-prosperous, golden or halcyon years, how would you describe the key terms of the movement or, if you prefer, the very nature, of a wellness lifestyle, REAL or otherwise as it is or should be today?

4) How much energy did you put into creating a wellness movement in Australia?

5) If you had remained in the wellness business, how might you have expanded upon the wonderful concepts advanced in the early years (mid-80's and 90's) when you led Australian conferences, training sessions, wrote books, gave media interviews and engaged in all manner of worksite promotions?

6) Based on your memories of those not-quite-prosperous, golden or halcyon years, how would you describe the key terms of the movement or, if you prefer, the very nature, of a wellness lifestyle, REAL or otherwise?

7) Was there any way the effort could have succeeded (by which I mean "proved profitable" and thus worth continuing)?

8) It seems that corporate and other forms of institutional wellness education has been led by medical doctors, nurses, health administrators, HRA types and maybe a few psychologists? Is there a profession not represented that should have been?

9) Is it possible that a REAL wellness focus, if it comes about, will have more success than the safe, medically based approach that continues to this day?

10) What are best and worst case scenarios for the wellness concept and movement, by any name, ten years or so down the road?

11) Do you believe most people have the capacity to shape and sustain healthy lifestyles?

12) You attended several National Wellness Conferences in the 80's and 90's. What is your take on this annual event?

13) Today and since the beginning in the 80's, worksite wellness has been focused on disease prevention, risk reduction, exercise promotion, stress management, nutritional basics and the like? Is that what you were promoting under the wellness banner?

14) What are the prospects for worksite wellness?

15) When asked, "Grant, tell me please: What's it all about," what do you say?

16) What advice do you have for those with little time left, which I suppose is all of us?

I invited Grant to pick and choose as many or as few of these questions to address as he wished. Grant pondered and pondered and pondered. Weeks went by. Reports of pondering going on came in, week after week. Finally, about a month after sending the questions, Grant sent this commentary. In my opinion, his response addresses all the questions and a few that did not occur to me-and maybe one or two I was afraid to ask. Enjoy.

Grant Donovan's Response