This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Wellness Tourism: An Application of Positive Psychological Theory to Overall Quality of Life




Dillette, Alana Kathryn

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management


This goal of this dissertation was to ascertain the characteristics of and relationships between wellness, positive psychological well-being, transformative experiences and overall quality of life within a tourism context. In order to accomplish this, three independent articles addressed eight research questions using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The first article explored holistic wellness through the qualitative analysis of 1216 TripAdvisor reviews. Utilizing the netnographic method in combination with exploratory inductive framework analysis, four dimensions of wellness were revealed: body, mind, spirit and environment (Dunn 1959). Results from the study were diverse, highlighting both barriers and pathways towards wellness. Findings revealed the possibility of wellness tourism to provide impactful and memorable wellness travel experiences. Article two explored a priori dimensions of psychological well-being within the yoga tourism context. Deductive thematic analysis was the method used to analyze 12 semi-structured interview transcripts. Findings revealed the existence of seven a priori dimensions of positive psychological well-being and their association with transformative experiences. Evidence from this study indicated that yoga tourism does in fact provide the environment for yoga tourists to experience positive psychological well-being while travelling as well as after their trip has concluded. Results suggest that yoga tourism has the ability to transform the lives of participants on varying levels. Future research exploring the presence of these findings within a larger wellness tourism context is warranted. Finally, the third article aimed to quantitatively examine the relationships between tourists’ positive psychological well-being and overall satisfaction with quality of life (QOL). Quantitative surveys were distributed using the online platform, Amazon Mechanical Turk resulting in 862 useable surveys. This article developed and tested a new model of positive psychological well-being and quality of life measures. Confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling and importance performance analysis were employed in this study. Results partially supported hypotheses suggesting that further research is needed to fully validate the proposed model. Limitations, implications and future research is discussed for each individual study.