John Travis (physician)

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Dr. John Travis
Dr. John Walton Travis.jpg
Born John Walton Travis
(1943-01-11) January 11, 1943 (age 72)
Bluffton, Ohio
Occupation Author and physician
Citizenship U.S. and Australian
Education M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine; B.A. (chemistry) from The College of Wooster; M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Residency in General Preventive Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Genre Health, Wellness, Psychological, Social, Political
Subject Wellness, Father’s movement, Childbirth, Infant wellness, Genital integrity, Attachment parenting
Literary movement Wellness movement, Father’s movement
Notable works Wellness Inventory (1975, 1981, 1988, 2003)
Wellness Workbook (1981, 1988, 2004)
Wellness For Helping Professionals: Creating Compassionate Cultures (1990)

John Walton "Jack" Travis (born January 11, 1943) is a physician and author known for his work in the wellness movement. He opened the world’s first wellness center, the Wellness Resource Center, in Mill Valley, California in November, 1975.[1] His televised interview with Dan Rather on 60 Minutes in November, 1979, brought the concept of wellness to national attention.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

John W. Travis earned his B.A. from The College of Wooster in 1965, followed by an M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1969.[3] He then spent six years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) where he developed one of the first computerized health risk assessment (HRA) instruments.[4] During his service in the USPHS, he completed a residency in preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which included a Masters in Public Health, awarded in 1971.[2]


Influenced by Halbert L. Dunn, M.D.'s 1961 book, High-Level Wellness, Travis founded the Wellness Resource Center in Mill Valley, California, in 1975.[2][5] The center sought to move from a medical focus, concentrating on illness, to addressing the overall wellbeing of the individual—encouraging “self-directed approaches” to improving health rather than the traditional focus on treating illness.[2][6] This approach emphasized taking responsibility for one’s own wellbeing and took a holistic view of health, encompassing “body, mind, emotions, and spirit.”[7][8] Travis has been recognized as one of the first physicians to educate the general public and healthcare professionals on the subject of wellness.[9]

Also in 1975, he developed the first wellness assessment, Wellness Inventory, which utilized a whole-person model based on the 12 dimensions of his Wellness Energy System, incorporating nutrition, exercise, and the social environment, among other areas.[10] Travis first wrote and self-published Wellness Workbook in 1977. In collaboration with Regina Ryan, it was then re-published as a trade paperback with Ten Speed Press (1981, 1988). The third edition in 2004 was published by Ten Speed's Celestial Arts division.

In 1979 Travis closed the Wellness Resource Center and established Wellness Associates, a non-profit educational corporation.[10]

Illness-Wellness Continuum[edit]

Illness-Wellness Continuum.jpg

The Illness-Wellness Continuum is a graphic illustration of a wellbeing concept first proposed by John W. Travis in 1972.[11] It describes how wellbeing is more than simply an absence of illness, but also incorporates the individual's mental and emotional health. In this it echoes the view of the World Health Organization.[12] In addition, it contrasts the way professionals using these two fundamentally different paradigms relate to their constituents. Professionals using the Treatment Paradigm relate to their patients as parent to child, while those using the Wellness Paradigm relate to their clients as peers.

IT applications[edit]

As his Master's thesis in 1973, Travis created one of the first computerized Health Risk Assessments (HRAs), building on the work of his mentor, Lewis Robbins, M.D.[13] In 1975, he created the first Wellness Inventory in order to access the underlying motivational issues of high risk behaviors. In 1985 he computerized Wellness Inventory. Since 1998 Healthworld Online expanded it into a comprehensive online whole-person wellbeing assessment. The program is used by corporations, hospitals, universities, spas and wellness centers, as well as to wellness coaches and health, wellness, and fitness professionals worldwide.[14] Additionally, Healthworld developed a Wellness Inventory Certification Training to train professionals to be wellness coaches and to utilize the program effectively.[15]

University posts[edit]

Since 2008, Dr. Travis has been an adjunct professor in the Wellness Program at RMIT University (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and at the California Institute of Integral Studies.[16] Around the same time, he summarized in six words, his work to-date: “The currency of wellness is connection.”[17]

Non-government organizations (NGOs)[edit]

Co-founder of:

  • Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, 1996
  • Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children, 1999
  • International Coalition for Genital Integrity, 1999

Opposition to male circumcision[edit]

Travis has been active in advancing the idea of boys' rights to bodily integrity, challenging the legality of parents' authorizing the removal of the male foreskin.[18][19][20] He has also published evidence revealing the shortcomings in the studies supporting circumcision in Africa to prevent HIV in Future HIV Therapy, International Journal of Men’s Health, The American Journal of Public Health, and The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.[21][22][23][24]

Work on parenting[edit]

Beginning in 1991, Dr. Travis and his colleague and wife, Meryn Callander, focused their efforts on attachment parenting, connection parenting and infant wellness. In 1999, with 11 other birthing and attachment professionals, including Suzanne Arms, Marilyn Milos and Sharron Humenick, they co-founded the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children (aTLC), which fosters individual and planetary wellness through changing how babies are conceived, gestated, born, and treated in their early years.[25] In 2000, Meryn and he, along with their daughter, Siena, moved to Meryn's homeland of Australia, where they continued their work in both adult and infant wellness.[26] Incorporating a global, cultural, and environmental focus, they sought to integrate these aspects of wellness with the concept of "full-spectrum wellness."

In 1997, through personal experience, he and Meryn recognized, and eventually named, the phenomenon that leads to the largely unrecognized epidemic of disappearing dads—Male Postpartum Abandonment Syndrome (MPAS). MPAS is described in Why Dads Leave: Insights and Resources for When Partners Become Parents, authored by Meryn, which included resources for readers to prevent and address the issues raised.[27]

John’s nascent Project FatherMore offers resources to individuals and couples who are experiencing MPAS through video interviews of men and women who have recognized the symptoms described and sought to address the issues raised. Meryn and John separated in 2012.


  • Wellness Inventory (Wellness Associates, 1975, 1981, 1988, 2003) ISBN 978-0-9625882-0-4
  • Wellness Workbook, coauthored with Regina Ryan (Ten Speed Press, 1981, 1988, Celestial Arts, 2004) ISBN 978-1-58761-213-8
  • Simply Well: Choices for a Healthy Life, coauthored with Regina Ryan (Ten Speed Press, 1990, 2001) ISBN 978-1-58008-292-1
  • Wellness For Helping Professionals: Creating Compassionate Cultures, co-authored with Meryn Callander (Wellness Associates Publications, 1990) ISBN 978-0-9625882-1-1
  • A Change of Heart: The Global Wellness Inventory, co-authored with Meryn G. Callander (Arcus Press, 1994) ISBN 0916955125
  • The Society of Prospective Medicine’s Handbook of Health Assessment Tools (SPM Press, 1999) ISBN 978-0-932109-09-5


  1. ^ Hans A. Baer (1 January 2004). Toward an Integrative Medicine: Merging Alternative Therapies with Biomedicine. Rowman Altamira. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-0-7591-0302-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Wellness". Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  3. ^ "Academic Catalog 2010-2011". California Institute of Integral Studies. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Pelletier, Ken (1977). Mind as healer, mind as slayer: a holistic approach to preventing stress disorders. Dell Pub. pp. 312–316. ISBN 9780440555926. 
  5. ^ "John Travis, MD, MPH". Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  6. ^ Ferguson, Tom. "How Health Workers Can Promote Self-Care". Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "A New Vision of Wellness". Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  8. ^ Nadine Abelson-Mitchell (26 February 2013). Neurotrauma: Managing Patients with Head Injury. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 43–. ISBN 978-1-118-45524-1. 
  9. ^ Richard Gifford Deaner (2006). To what Extent Can the Study of Early Recollections Predict Wellness for Counselor Education Students?. ProQuest. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-0-542-86066-9. 
  10. ^ a b Miller, James William. "Wellness: The History and Development of a Concept". Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Sharon Elayne Fair (22 October 2010). Wellness and Physical Therapy. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-1-4496-1034-0. 
  12. ^ Thomas J. Sweeney (18 May 2009). Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Practitioner's Approach, Fifth Edition. Taylor & Francis. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-0-203-88614-4. 
  13. ^ "A New Vision of Wellness". Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  14. ^ Weeks, John. "From Alternative Medicine a Definitive Guide to the 'Wellness Inventory': An Interview with Pioneering Entrepreneur, Jim Strohecker.". Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Firth, Kimberley M.; Smith, Katherine (August 2010). "A Survey of Multidimensional Health and Fitness Indexes". International Journal of AMSUS 175 (8): 112. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "John Travis". Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  17. ^ "Setting Straight the Historical Wellness Record Concerning Dr. John Travis’ Illness-Wellness Continuum". Retrieved 2013-12-09. 
  18. ^ George C. Denniston; Frederick M. Hodges; Marilyn Fayre Milos (31 August 1999). Male and Female Circumcision: Medical, Legal and Ethical Considerations in Pediatric Practice. Springer. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-306-46131-6. 
  19. ^ Travis, John W. (October 2002). "Male Circumcision, Penile Human Papillomavirus Infection, and Cervical Cancer.". The New England Journal of Medicine 347: 1452–1453. doi:10.1056/NEJM200210313471816. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Cruz, Rio; Glick, Leonard B.; Travis, John W. (2003). "Circumcision as human-rights violation: Assessing Benatar and Benatar". American Journal of Bioethics 3 (2): 19–20. doi:10.1162/152651603766436351. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  21. ^ Travis, John W.; Green, Lawrence W.; McAllister, Ryan G.; Peterson, Kent W. (May 2008). "Male circumcision is not the HIV 'vaccine' we have been waiting for!". Future HIV Therapy 2 (3): 193–199. doi:10.2217/17469600.2.3.193. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  22. ^ McAllister, Ryan G.; Travis, John W.; Bollinger, Dan; Rutiser, Claire; Sundar, Veeraraghavan (2008). "The Cost to Circumcise Africa". International Journal of Men's Health 7 (3): 306–315. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  23. ^ Green, Lawrence W.; McAllister, Ryan G.; Peterson, Kent W.; Travis, John W. (April 2009). "Medicaid Coverage of Circumcision Spreads Harm to the Poor, Letter to Editor". American Journal of Public Health 99 (4). doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.156463. PMC 2661476. PMID 19150892. 
  24. ^ Green, Lawrence W.; McAllister, Ryan G.; Peterson, Kent W.; Vardanyan, Astrik N.; Craig, Amber (November 2010). "Male Circumcision and HIV Prevention: Insufficient Evidence and Neglected External Validity". American Journal of Preventive Medicine 39 (5): 479–482. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  25. ^ Travis, John W. "Finding the Foundations of Wellness". Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Callander, Meryn G.". Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  27. ^ Callander, Meryn G. (July 2011). Why Dads Leave: Insights and Resources for When Partners Become Parents. Akasha Publications. ISBN 978-0-9625882-3-5.