Organizations connected to two of the most significant researchers in the movement for integrative health and healing, Brian Berman, MD and Wayne Jonas, MD, held separate events recently to announce reports that offer insight into patients’ experience of health and healing. Samueli Integrative Health Programs, which Jonas directs, examined patient views of health in the context of their relationships with their primary care doctors. Berman’s Institute for Health and Healing – in collaboration with the Institute for Functional Medicine – dove deeply into selected patients’ perceptions of what their “healing journey” to develop a model. Both examinations highlight processes not typically part of the clinical encounter. Outcomes illuminate potential characteristics of a system focused on health creation.
First, a familial confession. I recall at sitting at my parents home in the waning hippy era of mid-1970s when a close friend of my elder siblings who had strong back-to-the-land inclinations faced a grilling about her life plans at our pressurized family table. Education? Employment? Contributions to community? The friend must have known she was thumbing her nose at her interrogators when she shared her counter-cultural goal: “I just want to be happy.”
On September 26, 2018, Harvard Medical School announced to its faculty that it is “reassessing” the School’s mission statement. An invitation to comment and provide feedback on a draft of a new mission was sent by microbiology and immunology professor Peter Howley, MD. Howley leads a committee for Medical School Dean George Daley, MD, PhD that is wrestling with a transformational theme that most unifies the diverse parties in the movement for integrative health and medicine. Harvard is bellying up toward reckoning with the need to shift the medical industry toward a system for creating health.
One can easily count the chickens of non-pharmacological approaches highlighted in multiple organizational guidelines and state strategies related to pain and opioids. But one definitely cannot count on them hatching inside each new, significant policy initiative. Regular medicine tends to regress toward a non-inclusive mean in pain treatment. And “mean” may be the operative word – at least from the perspective of individuals who remain unaware of the integrative therapies and practitioners that may help them.