The COMPAS-W Wellbeing Scale: Markers of mental wellbeing from TWIN-E and other Studies


Mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness, it is also comprised of mental wellbeing. We know very little about the underlying mechanisms of mental wellbeing relative to mental illness. Similarly, we know very little about the underlying mechanisms that contribute towards resilience to stress and adversity. This project led by A/​Prof Justine Gatt aims to identify the underlying markers of wellbeing in various cohorts, including a prospective cohort of 1,600 healthy adult twins from the TWIN‑E Study. Follow-up data over 12 years was established in this twin sample in the extended TWIN-10 Study. 

Mental wellbeing is measured using the 26-item COMPAS‑W Wellbeing Scale (Gatt et al., 2014, Psychiatry Research) which we have validated in adults and adolescents. What differentiates this wellbeing scale from many others is that it provides a composite” measure of wellbeing; that is, a measure of both subjective (hedonia) and psychological (eudaimonia) wellbeing, whereas most other scales measure only one component. The COMPAS‑W scale can be used to calculate total wellbeing, as well as subscale measures of composure, own-worth, mastery, positivity, achievement and satisfaction. Twin modelling was conducted on the scale and heritability (genetic variability) was confirmed to be 48%. Subsequent studies have used the COMPAS‑W scale to establish novel genetic, psychological, cognitive, and neural mechanisms of wellbeing using EEG and MRI in different samples.

Team Members & Collaborators

A/​Prof Justine Gatt led this project, with investigators Prof Peter Schofield (NeuRA and UNSW, Australia) and Prof Leanne Williams (Stanford University, USA). The twin participants for this project were drawn from the Twins Research Australia (TRA) twin registry (https://​www​.twins​.org​.au/).

Grant Funding

This project was supported by a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship awarded to A/​Prof Justine Gatt (APP1062495, 2014 – 2017), a Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research awarded to A/​Prof Justine Gatt ($50,000, 2014 – 2017), and a past ARC Linkage Grant (Williams, Schofield, Harris and Clark, Gatt), which included an ARC Linkage Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded to A/​Prof Justine Gatt (LP0883621, 2008 – 2011). 

This project is still ongoing.

Publications

(1) Book chapters and reviews:

Gatt JM (2024). Neuroscience and happiness. Chapter 1.5. In: Brockmann H and Fernandez-Urbano R. Eds. Encyclopedia on Happiness, Quality of Life and Subjective Well-being. Edward Elgar Publishing. DOI: https://​doi​.org/​10​.​4337​/​9781800889675

Alexander, R., Aragon, O.R., Bookwala, J., Cherbuin, N., Gatt, J.M., Kahrilas, I.J., Kästner, N., Lawrence, A., Lowe, L., Morrison, R.G., Mueller, S.C., Nusslock, R., Papadelis, C., Polnaszek, K.L., Richter, S.H., Silton, R.L., & Styliadis, C. (2021). The neuroscience of positive emotions and affect: Implications for cultivating happiness and wellbeing. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 121, 220 – 249https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1016​/​j​.​n​e​u​b​i​o​r​e​v​.​2020​.​12.002

Gatt JM (2020). The neuroscience of wellbeing: Part 1, Chapter 37. In: Cohen L. Ed. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Health Psychology. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, p. 325 – 330https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1002​/​9781119057840​.ch37

Gatt JM (2020). The neuroscience of wellbeing: Part 2, Chapter 41. In: Cohen L. Ed. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Health Psychology. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, p. 361 – 372https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1002​/​9781119057840​.ch41

Alexander R and Gatt JM (2019). Resilience, Chapter 20. In: Miu AC, Homberg JR, Lesch K‑P. Eds. Genes, Brain and Emotions: Interdisciplinary and Translational Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 286 – 303. ISBN: 9780198793014.

(2) COMPAS‑W development and validation papers:

Gatt JM, Burton KLO, Schofield PR, Bryant RA, Williams LM. (2014). The heritability of mental health and wellbeing defined using COMPAS‑W, a new composite measure of wellbeing. Psychiatry Research, 219 (1), 204 – 213https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1016​/​j​.​p​s​y​c​h​r​e​s​.​2014​.​04.033

Gatt JM, Alexander R, Emond A, Foster K, Hadfield K, Mason-Jones A, Reid S, Theron L, Ungar M, Wouldes T, Wu Q. (2020). Trauma, resilience and mental health in migrant and non-migrant youth: An international cross-sectional study across six countries. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, Article 997. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​3389​/​f​p​s​y​t​.​2019​.​00997

(3) TWIN‑E and TWIN-10 Study protocols:

Park HRP, Williams LM, Turner RM, Gatt JM. (2022). TWIN-10: Protocol for a 10-year longitudinal twin study of the neuroscience of mental wellbeing and resilience. BMJ Open; 12(7): e058918. http://​dx​.doi​.org/​10​.​1136​/​b​m​j​o​p​e​n​-2021 – 058918

Gatt JM, Korgaonkar M, Schofield PR, Harris A, Clark CR, Oakley K, Ram K, Michaelson H, Yap S, Stanners M, Wise M, Williams LM. (2012). The TWIN‑E project in emotional wellbeing: Study protocol and preliminary heritability results across four MRI and DTI measures. Twin Research and Human Genetics, Special Issue: The Genetics of Brain Imaging Phenotypes. 15 (3), 419 – 441. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1017​/​t​h​g​.​2012.12

(4) Research papers:

Park RP, Chilver MR, Quide Y, Montalto A, Schofield PR, Williams LM, Gatt JM. (2024). Heritability of cognitive and emotion processing during functional MRI in a twin sample. Human Brain Mapping, 45(1), e26557. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1002​/​h​b​m​.​26557

Chilver MR, Champaigne-Klassen E, Schofield PR, Williams LM, Gatt JM. (2023). Predicting wellbeing over one year using sociodemographic factors, personality, health behaviours, cognition, and life events. Scientific Reports. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1038​/​s​41598-023 – 325883

Jamshidi J, Park HRP, Montalto A, Fullerton JM, & Gatt JM. (2022). Wellbeing and brain structure: A comprehensive phenotypic and genetic study of image-derived phenotypes in the UK Biobank. Human Brain Mapping, 43(17): 5180 – 5193. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1002​/​h​b​m​.​25993

Jamshidi J, Schofield PR, Gatt JM*, Fullerton JM* (*equal senior authors). (2022). Phenotypic and genetic analysis of a wellbeing factor score in the UK Biobank and the impact of childhood maltreatment and psychiatric illness. Translational Psychiatry, 12, 113https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1038​/​s​41398-022 – 018745

Park HRP, Quide Y, Schofield PR, Williams LM, Gatt JM. (2022). Grey matter covariation and the role of emotion reappraisal in mental wellbeing and resilience after early life stress exposure. Translational Psychiatry, 12, 85https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1038​/​s​41398-022 – 018496

Montalto A, Park HRP, Williams LM, Korgaonkar MS, Chilver MR, Jamshidi J, Schofield PR, Gatt JM. (2022). Negative association between anterior insula activation and resilience during sustained attention: an fMRI twin study. Psychological Medicine. pp 1 – 13http://​dx​.doi​.org/​10​.​1017​/​s​0033291721005262

Chilver MR, Park HRP, Schofield PR, Clark CR, Williams LM, Gatt JM. (2022). Emotional face processing correlates with depression/​anxiety symptoms but not wellbeing in non-clinical adults: An event-related potential study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 145, 18 – 26http://​dx​.doi​.org/​10​.​1016​/​j​.​j​p​s​y​c​h​i​r​e​s​.​2021​.​11.038

Chilver MR and Gatt JM. (2021). Six-week online multi-component positive psychology intervention improves subjective wellbeing in young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, Sep 5, 1 – 22https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1007​/​s​10902-021 – 004493

Gatt JM, Burton KLO, Schofield PR, Bryant RA, Williams LM. (2021). Corrigendum to The heritability of mental health and wellbeing defined using COMPAS‑W, a new composite measure of wellbeing’: Psychiatry Research, 219 (2014), 204 – 213. Psychiatry Research, 304. 114141. Accepted 24th July 2021https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1016​/​j​.​p​s​y​c​h​r​e​s​.​2021​.​114141

Park HRP, Chilver MR, Montalto A, Jamshidi J, Schofield PR, Williams LM, Gatt JM. (2021). Associations between mental wellbeing and fMRI neural bases underlying responses to positive emotion in a twin sample. Psychological Medicine, 1 – 9https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1017​/​S​0033291721002695

Cheng P, Park HRP, Gatt JM (2021). Approach coping mitigates psychological distress of COVID-19 isolation for young men with low wellbeing in a sample of 1749 youth from Australia and the USA. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 634925. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​3389​/​f​p​s​y​t​.​2021​.​634925

Routledge KM, Williams LM, Harris AWF, Schofield PR, Gatt JM. (2021). The impact of online brain training exercises on experiences of depression, anxiety and emotional wellbeing in a twin sample. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 134, 138 – 149https://​authors​.else​vi​er​.com/​s​d​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​S​0022​-​3956​(​20​)​31162 – 6

Jamshidi J, Williams LM, Schofield PR, Park H, Montalto A, Chilver M, Bryant R, Toma C, Fullerton J, Gatt JM. (2020). Diverse phenotypic measurements of wellbeing: Heritability, temporal stability, and the variance explained by polygenic scores. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 19 (8), e12694https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1111​/​g​b​b​.​12694

Chilver MR, Keller AS, Park H, Jamshidi J, Montalto A, Schofield PR, Clark CR, Harmon-Jones E, Williams LM, Gatt JM. (2020). Electroencephalography profiles as a biomarker of wellbeing: A twin study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 126: 114 – 121https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1016​/​j​.​j​p​s​y​c​h​i​r​e​s​.​2020​.​04.010

Gatt JM, Alexander R, Emond A, Foster K, Hadfield K, Mason-Jones A, Reid S, Theron L, Ungar M, Wouldes T, Wu Q. (2020). Trauma, resilience and mental health in migrant and non-migrant youth: An international cross-sectional study across six countries. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, Article 997. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​3389​/​f​p​s​y​t​.​2019​.​00997

Wu Q, Ge T, Emond A, Foster K, Gatt JM, Hadfield K, Mason-Jones A, Reid S, Theron L, Ungar M, Wouldes T. (2018). Acculturation, resilience and the mental health of migrant youth: A cross-country comparative study. Public Health, 162, 63 – 70. DOI: 10.1016/j.puhe.2018.05.006

Hadfield K, Ungar M, Emond A, Foster K, Gatt JM, Mason-Jones A, Reid S, Theron L, Wouldes T, Wu Q. (2018). Challenges of developing and conducting an international study of resilience in migrant adolescents. International Social Work, 63 (2), 232 – 237. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1177​/​0020872818796147

Gatt JM, Burton KLO, Routledge KM, Grasby KL, Korgaonkar MS, Grieve SM, Schofield PR, Harris AWF, Clark CR, Williams LM. (2018). A negative association between brainstem pontine gray matter volume, wellbeing and resilience in healthy twins. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Jun 20; 43(6): 386 – 395https://​doi​.org/10.1503/jpn.170125

Routledge KM, Williams LM, Harris AWF, Schofield PR, Clark CR, Gatt JM. (2018). Genetic correlations between wellbeing, depression and anxiety symptoms and behavioral responses to the emotional faces task in healthy twins. Psychiatry Research, 264, 385 – 393. https://​doi​.org/​10​.​1016​/​j​.​p​s​y​c​h​r​e​s​.​2018​.​03.042

Routledge KM, Burton KLO, Williams LM, Harris A, Schofield PR, Clark CR, Gatt JM. (2017). The shared and unique genetic relationship between mental wellbeing, depression and anxiety symptoms and cognitive function in healthy twins. Cognition and Emotion, 31(7), 1465 – 1479. DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2016.1232242

Routledge KM, Burton KLO, Williams LM, Harris A, Schofield PR, Clark CR, Gatt JM. (2016). Shared versus distinct genetic contributions of mental wellbeing with depression and anxiety symptoms in healthy twins. Psychiatry Research, 244, 65 – 70. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.07.016

Gatt JM, Burton KLO, Williams LM, Schofield PR. (2015). Specific and common genes implicated across major mental disorders: A review of meta-analysis studies. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 60, 1 – 13. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.09.014