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Taylor Walsh: Meeting with Jeff Levy, Chair of the US Prevention Advisory, on Integrative Health

© John Weeks

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by John Weeks . View all columns in series
Summary: How "integrative health care" and "integrative health" are understood by the U.S. government is partly in the hands of Jeff Levy. So is understanding of these terms relative to application for Community Transformation Grants. Levy, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, chairs the Advisory Group to the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. The Group has a subcommittee working on definitions on integrative health. This group is supporting development of the National Prevention and Public Health Plan to be released by June 30, 2011. Integrator writer Taylor Walsh met with Levy and asked him about integrative health care. The next Advisory Group meeting, available via WebEx software, is scheduled for May 24, 2011.


Image
Taylor Walsh
Integrator writer Taylor Walsh met recently with Jeff Levy, chair of the Advisory Group to the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. Levy is
executive director of the Trust for America's Health: Preventing Epidemics, Protecting People (TFAH). The Council was established via the Obama overhaul and is charged with embracing integrative healthcare approaches. (See Section 4001 here.) The advisory group includes two individuals directly connected to the integrative practice world: Sharon Van Horn, MD, MPH and Charlotte Kerr, RSM, LAc, MPH.

Walsh, based in the Beltway,
is a consultant, entrepreneur and writer on digital media and integrative health
His website is Getting to Integrative Health & Wellness. Walsh is tracking the developments toward a National Prevention (and Health Promotion Strategy closely, with a particular eye on the meaning of "integrative healthcare." His most recent piece reported on the first meeting of the Advisory Group. (See Brief Report: Integrative practice in the founding meeting of the National Prevention Advisory Group.) 


________________________________________

 
Report on a Meeting with Jeff Levy, chair of the National Advisory Group to the

National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council

-  Taylor Walsh
Washington, D.C.
Getting to Integrative Health & Wellness

Image
Jeff Levy: Advisory Group chair
Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) occupies a unique position on the national prevention landscape. In addition to managing TFAH's prevention-oriented programs, he is also the chair of the recently established Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health to the National Prevention Council. In a short meeting (on May 3, 2011), we talked about the place of integrative practice at TFAH and as part of the forthcoming National Prevention Strategy that is being prepared by the Prevention Council and which is now due in late June. 


The Prevention Advisory Group consists of very experienced professionals from public health and prevention and health promotion communities.  It includes at least two practitioners of integrative practice, Sr. Charlotte Kerr, RSM, LAc, MPH of the Tai Sofia Institute and Sharon Van Horn, Sharon Van Horn, MD, MPH, a pediatrician in private practice in North Carolina. 

   
 "In terms of 'integrative practice' in prevention,
Levi noted the importance of distinguishing between
Integrative Medicine and Integrative Health."
 
   
In terms of "integrative practice" in prevention, Levi noted the importance of distinguishing between Integrative Medicine and Integrative Health.  For TFAH's purposes, and for the Advisory Group, the focus of prevention "interventions" are those outside of the biomedical realm.  So: mind-body techniques for stress management or nutrition programs are a focus, rather than a therapy to address a condition like a sinus infection.  

Because the terminology has come to be so blurred through interchangeable use (lets not forget CAM, or CAIM), understanding this distinction, Levi said, will be an important factor for the Advisory Group as it develops guidance for the 17 federal agencies that comprise the Prevention Council.  

   
    
"Of particular interest for
integrative practitioners are the
CommunityTransformation Grants."


NCCAM's recent reporting that 50% of public CAM usage is for general well being helps make the distinction, although there is little data available that describes exactly which approaches are used for general wellness and prevention.  This kind of detail will become more in demand as prevention and wellness programs become prevalent in workplace programs, in retail fitness and spa settings, and perhaps in schools.

In terms of funding and establishment of prevention programs for 2011, the National Prevention Fund, which distributed some $500 million in 2010, will soon begin accepting grant requests.  Of particular interest for local integrative practitioners are the Community Transformation Grants that are designed to give local communities the latitude to define the nature and objectives for their own prevention programs.
CommentThanks Taylor. Little here suggests that Levy understands that clinical "integrative healthcare" is necessarily prevention and health promotion-focused. This is so even when integrative care is for a frank medical condition. The concept that needs to be implanted in the strategy is that integrative clinical practices "treat disease by restoring health." (I take this phrase from the naturopathic doctors.) Unless something surprising is transpiring in the Advisory Group's integrative healthcare working group, there appears but small chance that the June 2011 plan will appropriately capture this paradigm shift in clinical practice.

This is a shame, given the implantation of integrative language in
Section 4001 of the Obama overhaul law. The integrative healthcare community does not appear to have yet made its case well. This paints the "community" with the granfalloon brush. Don't "real communities" show up when their name is called? I hope more is going on of which I am yet unaware.


Send your comments to johnweeks@theintegratorblog.com
for inclusion in a future Your Comments Forum.
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About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine since 1983. Happily, I have learned some things. I was once called an "expert in alternative medicine" by......more
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