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.
Not long ago researchers at Yale cast a pall over the use of complementary medicine in the care of cancer patients – a.k.a. “integrative oncology.” The negativity was based on a fundamental misclassification. Nevertheless, the wrong-headed results prompted a flurry of news accounts that suggested the users of complementary medicine “die earlier than those who didn’t.” A more expansive and deeper look at the potential values of integrative oncology can be gained via a recent Special Focus Issue on Integrative Oncology with its 6 invited reviews, 13 original research articles, 7 commentaries, and 2 editorials. The submissions came from 4 continents.
Pick an organization, any organization, in complementary and integrative health and medicine. Good money says that when its members assemble to brainstorm the organization’s optimal future, thought will be given to how to respond to negative media. Sticky dots indicating participant priorities will fly onto poster paper to support developing a method to promptly respond.
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.