FORT is a research programme on fortology (i.e. the science of strengths; forté = strengths) and specifically psychofortology (the science of psychological strengths) also called positive psychology. We conceptualize health as multi-dimensional (physical, psychological, social and spiritual) and as more than the absence of symptoms and pathology. Our assumption is that it is not enough to remediate problems, but that we should also build biopsychosocial strengths and competencies in order to develop protective buffers against the risks for poor health – that is more cost effective – and improve the quality of life for many people and not only those with illnesses.
The FORT research programme consisted up to now of three projects building on each other, namely (a) Clarification and advancement of psychosocial well-being and strengths (FORT1), (b) Understanding and promoting psychosocial health, resilience, and strengths in an African context (FORT2); and (c) The prevalence of levels of psychosocial health: dynamics and relationships with biomarkers of (ill-)health in South African social contexts (FORT3). These research projects were also linked to and overlapped in some instances with other multidisciplinary projects in the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR), such as the THUSA, FLAGH, POWIRS and PURE-SA projects as well as to the international EHHI project (=Eudaimonic–Hedonic Happiness Investigation). FORT4 is in a development phase.
In general FORT focuses on the understanding of psychosocial well-being and strengths on individual and group levels, what makes life worthwhile for people in various contexts, how it is associated with various socio-demographic and physical variables, how it can be measured in a valid and trustworthy way in diverse contexts with the implementation of modern psychometric techniques, what programmes can be developed that are targeted for specific African contexts, what the impact of such interventions are for individuals and groups, what the prevalence of levels of psychosocial well-being in an African context is, and lastly contributing to developing theoretical models of psychosocial health for guidance of research and interventions.
Current subprojects in FORT3 mainly focuses on the understanding, measurement and promotion of (bio)psychosocial health and well-being with specific reference to what people in diverse contexts find the most meaningful in their lives, what their most important goals are, what makes them happy, what their most important relationships are, and how these link with indicators of physical (ill-)health and other wellbeing facets in an African and multicultural context. We are also developing an interconnectedness model of well-being.