While the ecological health benefits of integrative approaches have not yet been fully documented, we can appreciate that these preventive approaches might demonstrate other important benefits — a reduction in climate impacts associated with a reduction in energy intensive medical care, or reductions of pharmaceutical discharge to water ways and other medical waste reduction achieved through lifestyle rather than pharmacological treatment approaches.
Communities and patients will be served by approaches that work to prevent disease, and that recognize the role of health disparities and other social factors in the disease process. An understanding of a patient’s social-cultural history, nutritional, and community environments is essential.
Studies show that people with greater social ties live longer than those with fewer social ties. The support and love that comes from community is part of what integrative medicine calls an “optimal healing environment,” which is defined as a system and place comprised of people, behaviors, treatments, and their psychological and physical parameters.
Providers need support, training and other skills that integrate the patients and community in ways that have not yet been fully appreciated in healthcare, such as community activism. Inherent in a preventive approach are team-based models of practice that draw on the skill sets, capacities and knowledge of clinical and non-clinical staff. In a commons health care, these teams will be comprised of systems-minded individuals, working at the intersection of community, environments, and healthcare.