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Course Evaluation


The Action for Happiness course delivers big benefits

An independent study has found that the 'Exploring What Matters' course enhances wellbeing, reduces symptoms of mental ill-health and encourages pro-social action.

The Exploring What Matters course has been subjected to a full Randomised Controlled Trial from by leading academic experts. The results show that, compared to a control group, the course delivers large and statistically significant benefits in terms of:

  • Improvements in subjective wellbeing
  • Reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Enhanced levels of compassion and social trust

EWM Results Summary


About the Course

Exploring What Matters is an 8-week, volunteer-led intervention for local groups and has already been run in hundreds of communities across the UK and around the world. The course is offered on a 'donation of your choice' basis so it remains accessible to everyone, regardless of their situation.


About the Study

The Randomised Control Trial evaluation was carried out by Prof Jan-Emmanuel de Neve (Oxford University), Dr Christian Krekel (London School of Economics) and Dr Daisy Fancourt (University College London) as part of the evidence programme of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing. The Action for Happiness project team was led by Keith Cowley and Dr Mark Williamson.

EWM Summary Cover   EWM Summary Graph

The study found the course increases average Life Satisfaction by a whole point (+1.0) on the 0-10 scale. This is greater than the increases in Life Satisfaction seen from becoming partnered (+0.59) or finding employment (+0.7), when compared with findings from other cross-sectional studies. This increase also appears to last (and even increase) when measured again two months after the course.

The full academic paper can be found here:

CEP Paper Cover     CEP Paper Graphs

Study Citation

C. Krekel, J.-E. De Neve, D. Fancourt, and R. Layard, “A Local Community Course That Raises Mental Wellbeing and Pro-sociality“, Discussion Paper, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science, January 2020. ISSN 2042-2695

Life-Changing Benefits

"The course was life-changing for me and lots of the others too. We made new friendships and took positive actions in our lives based on what we discussed. We have continued to meet up and support each other. One lady has actually become my best friend! Last weekend we got together for the launch of a new local Community Centre which lots of us had been working on. It's so great to feel part of something meaningful and to be connected to others near where I live. I am so much happier and none of this would have happened without that course."

Shirley (course participant) ~ 2018

Thanks to the team

Organising a Randomised Controlled Trial takes a lot of careful planning and coordination. We are incredibly grateful to Keith Cowley who managed the project on behalf of Action for Happiness and without whom this wouldn't have been possible.

We are also very grateful to all the team members and volunteers who helped with collecting the surveys and saliva samples from course participants at each of the measurement sessions, including: Alex Nunn, Andrew Piper, Ewa Lee, Fiona Beighton, Jade Morley, Natasha Parker and Tanya Barrett.

Many thanks too to Martin Goss, Laboratory Manager at The William Harvey Research Institute for his help in storing the biomarker samples during the project.

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LEADER TESTIMONIAL

Lucy -ad"What I loved most about running the course was being part of a group of people connecting on a deep level to effect positive change in the world outside us. I was profoundly moved by the experience and would recommend it to everyone"

Lucy Roberts, course leader