A recent study conducted by Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital Benson-Henry Institute demonstrated that mind-body interventions such as meditation, yoga and prayer can reduce the need for healthcare services by up to 43%.
Specifically, the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP) was used on a large and diverse cohort of patients to assess the effect of mind-body training on healthcare utilization over a median of 4.2 years (.85 – 8.4 years).
At the one-year mark, total healthcare utilization for the intervention group had decreased by an average of 43%. The breakdown showed a decrease in clinical encounters by 41.9%, imaging by 50.3%, lab encounters by 43.5%, procedures by 21.4% and emergency room visits by 47.2%. The control group, on the other hand showed a general increase in the use of outpatient visits, specialty visits and hospital admissions.
The report starts out by demonstrating that stress, and low psychological and physical resilience to it, is what drives a large majority of the use of healthcare services in the U.S, and that because stress affects people mentally and physically, managing one’s stress is imperative if one is to achieve and maintain wellness.
As stated in the report, “over 90% of people suffering from stress or stress-related problems seek help through primary care and tend to be frequent healthcare utilizers,” and “common physical manifestations of stress, e.g., headaches, back pain, insomnia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel, chest discomfort, are among the most frequent reason people seek care.”
Mind-body interventions include any therapies that work with the relationship between the mind and body and the ways in which that relationship affects health and disease. These interventions are typically low cost with little to no side effects and have been shown to have both mental and physical health benefits. Mind-body interventions seem to improve stress-related symptoms and often affect the physical cause of the symptom as well. They almost always require patient participation, rather than being passive. In addition to 3RP, some examples include meditation, yoga, biofeedback and prayer. The 3RP intervention uses a combination of relaxation response-eliciting meditation and mindfulness exercises, social support, cognitive skills training and positive psychology.
The healthcare industry is currently undergoing a shift from a focus on specialized care to a focus on getting patients to participate in their health and on the use of integrated care to promote wellness and proactive care. Mind-body interventions are an important part of this integrated care approach, serving as a cost effective solution for disease management and prevention.
As concluded by the report, “Mind body interventions such as 3RP have the potential to substantially reduce healthcare utilization at relatively low cost and thus can serve as key components in any population health and health care delivery system.” With the importance being put on population health initiatives at this juncture, mind-body interventions should not be overlooked.
Mind-body interventions are an important part of CarpeVITA Health’s CV4P™ model, which helps people predict, prevent, personalize and participate in their health through its integrated health networks. Learn more about CV4P™ here.