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Integrative Care vs. Integrative Medicine

Posted May 03 2010 5:45am
Before I start today I want to point you to a couple of really cool new websites. The first is "" (see at: Goodsearch, which is powered by Yahoo, puts a portion of the $8 billion geenerated by search engines to work for charities. Possibilities Journey Inc., ( is now listed there, so you can donate to us just by searching the Web - check it out. The second is a group called "" (see at: This site is great for all ages as it helps people become more literate and generates rice for people to eat. The way it works is that a word is given and you have to pick the correct definition. Each correct answer generates rice grains. It's a great tool, and I'm going to engage my teenagers and church Youth Group in this activity.

Now to the thought for today...integration. The term "integrative medicine" is thrown about a lot nowadays. I think that most people know that these terms mean the integration of complementary (aka alternative)approaches to classic Western medicine (that is herbals, acupuncture, aurvedic, etc). While this may be a step in the right direction, it really still just approaches the person as an entity to treat with medicine, not truly integrating the whole person into the treatment.

Integrative care, however, is an approach that values the whole person (mind, body, spirit) and looks to identify with the person those approaches that are most meaningful to them. Those approaches might be meditation and use of healing services to care for areas of brokenness that are driving pain medication use (as an example). In a new book entitled, "Making Health Care Whole" (by Puchalski and Ferrell) the authors explore this type of holistic approach.

Dr. Puchalski runs the George Washington University's Institute of Spirituality and Health ( She has been a leader in bringing teaching on spirituality and spiritual needs of persons into physician training programs across the U.S. Her goal is to see that physicians are trained to be more understanding of the spiritual aspects of all disease, and to not neglect this in their differential. However, this is an uphill battle to counteract the biomedical diagnostic approach that is drilled into every physician. Also, this type of appraoch is not reimbursed, so busy MD's will find it difficult to do this routinely.

However, by integrating spirituality into the process of care, we now are truly linking all aspects of the disease process. While complementary approaches do offer some benefit, it is still the same "pill for every ill" approach that hasn't addressed the whole person. Only when we integrate the whole person, as well as the support system for that person, into the plan of care will we make significant progress towards Shalom.


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