Modifiable disease risk, readiness to change, and psychosocial functioning improve with integrative medicine immersion model

Altern Ther Health Med. 2011 Jul-Aug;17(4):38-47.


Background: Stroke, diabetes, and coronary heart disease (CHD) remain leading causes of death in the United States and are largely attributable to lifestyle behaviors. Integrative medicine can provide a supportive partnership that focuses on improving health by identifying and implementing lifestyle changes based upon personal values and goals.

Objective: This prospective observational study was designed to assess the effectiveness of an integrative medicine intervention on modifiable disease risk, patient activation, and psychosocial risk factors for stroke, diabetes, and CHD.

Design: Sixty-three adults participated in a 3-day comprehensive, multimodal health immersion program at Duke Integrative Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Participants received follow-up education, physician support, and telephonic health coaching between the immersion program and the endpoint 7 to 9 months later.

Primary outcome measures: Psychosocial functioning, readiness to change health behaviors, and risk of developing diabetes, stroke, and CHD were assessed at baseline and endpoint.

Results: Although cardiac risk remained unchanged (P = .19) during the study period, risk of diabetes (P = .02) and stroke (P < .01) decreased significantly. Perceived stress remained unchanged, but improvements were seen in mood (P < .05) and relationship satisfaction (P < .004). Patients became more activated towards self-management of health (P <.001), endorsed greater readiness to change health behaviors (P <.01), and reported increased aerobic exercise (P <.001) and stretching (P = .006) following the intervention.

Conclusion: An integrative health model can help patients become more engaged in self-management of health and support them in making and maintaining healthy lifestyle changes. These findings provide support for use of an integrative health model in adult disease risk reduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy*