Osher Collaborative team urges imperative to imbed health justice in integrative medicine
February 28, 2018
by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News and Reports Editor’s note: This analysis article is not edited and the authors are solely responsible for the content. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Integrative Practitioner. The earliest analysis of users of complementary and alternative medicine services created an association with a well-to-do, cash-paying clientele. A survey of major integrative centers in large institutions published in 2012 found a not dissimilar demographic. The limited insurance coverage for licensed integrative professionals and the misfit of integrative and functional models with insurance schemes stimulated a rise of concierge practices. These seem to fix the image in lacquer. Antagonists love to trumpet the portrait: integrative medicine is a dalliance of the wealthy. The last place to expect integrative medicine to create value would be in public health or with the underserved. The criticism lands easily enough to sting. Yet it misses the work of those who created the Integrative, Complementary and Traditional Health Practices Section of the American Public Health Association. It misses the rousing growth of Integrative Medicine for the Underserved. It misses the connection to the medicines of the people in the traditional medical practices from around the world that drew so many to the integrative field. In a recent commentary from the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine, authors Maria Chao, DrPH, MPA and Shelley Adler, PhD affirm this apparent misalignment: “Ironically, integrative medicine, a field predicated on medical pluralism and diverse approaches to health and well-being, has not completely shed its reputation as elite medicine for the worried well … Integrative medicine has come to be thought of as pricey, nonessential healthcare practices for the ‘overserved.’’’ Chao and Adler’s column stimulates change-agency in this area, and offers a corrective course. They assertively title their perspective Integrative Medicine and the Imperative for Health Justice. These are the headlines of their 3-part strategy.
- Leverage integrative medicine to advance health equity, that is, the attainment of the highest level of health for all people.
- Promote an integrative medicine culture that upholds the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Address intrapersonal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that perpetuate bias and discrimination.