• population health;
  • psychometric analysis;
  • US population surveys;
  • well-being assessment

In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supported testing of a number of well-being scales for potential use on public health surveillance systems. The purpose of this study was to examine the descriptive and psychometric properties of the scales (i.e. Satisfaction with Life, Meaning in Life, Positive and Negative Affect, Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness, and global and domain-specific life satisfaction) and to examine the distribution of well-being levels in a representative sample of community-dwelling US adults (N = 5,399) using a stratified analysis. The scales demonstrated acceptable psychometric properties. Responses were negatively skewed, with most respondents reporting mildly positive levels of subjective well-being. With the exception of autonomy, competence, and relatedness scales, all scales demonstrated good variability across socio-demographic subgroups. Older age and higher levels of education, and income, were associated with higher levels of subjective well-being. Most of the examined scales and related items merit consideration for continued testing in telephone surveys used in public health surveillance.