Medical experts seeing change in approach to health
In our nation's drug overdose crisis, a crisis that shows no sign of slowing, the
In a recent encouraging report by
Currently, more than 60 such fellowship programs have been formed nationwide that offer physicians postgraduate training in clinics and hospitals where they learn evidence-based approaches for treating addiction.
As the NBC News report points out, historically, the path to addiction medicine was through psychiatry. Public health advocates have been pushing for years to get more physicians trained in evidence-based treatment, and this model started to change beginning in 2015. At that time, the American
"Even 10 years ago, I couldn't find a medical student or resident interested in learning about addiction medicine if I looked under a rock. They were just not out there," Dr.
Lembke now sees a change in the upcoming generation of doctors, drawn to the field because they care about social justice. This represents a potentially significant shift in the way medicine might be practiced in the future. Lembke points out that clinicians traditionally spend substantial time monitoring patients for adverse outcomes. They tend to focus on the absence of disease as a defining trait of health. Public health experts tend to home in on quantifiable measures of societal health, such as leading causes of mortality. What is being recognized is that neither of these measures fully accounts for factors such as happiness, life satisfaction, character, virtue and social relationships, all of which can affect health.
This too is beginning to change.
In a recent opinion piece published in JAMA and co-authored by
In pursuit of this goal, researchers have recently developed a "flourishing index" consisting of six domains that account for qualities such as happiness, financial stability and mental and physical health, among other factors. It is hoped that this shift in focus will have eventually wide applications for the patient as well as society at large. Researchers are already examining how employers might use measurements of flourishing to help assess and improve employee well-being.
This development is happening at a time when complementary or integrative medical approaches have never been more popular. Nearly 30% of adults report using complementary or alternative medicine. Doctors are beginning to embrace such therapies, often combining them with mainstream medical approaches.
We should also not lose sight of the things we can do to improve health that do not necessarily require medical intervention.
As pointed out in a new study published in The
The main problem causing these health outcomes is the low intake of healthy foods. Diets high in sodium, low in whole grains and low in fruit accounted for more than half of all diet-related deaths around the world. In
We are not alone in this. People in almost every corner of the world could benefit from rebalancing their diets. As reported on in the past, scientists have unveiled what they say is an ideal diet for the health of the planet and its people. It simply requires doubling your consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes and cutting in half your consumption of meat and sugar.
It should also be a focus of public health interventions.