The National Health Council held its 36th National Health Forum in Baltimore in March of 1989, entitled "Healing Encounters: Patient-Provider Collaboration Reconsidered." The keynote speaker was Edmund Pellegrino, MD, director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. His suggestion was that the goal of health care is the restoration of patients' abilities to pursue their life goals and activities that give meaning and value to their lives. This is not always the same thing as restoring bodily health, especially if that would entail the application of procedures that would violate the patient's personal convictions or dignity. He promoted a collaborative patient/health professional relationship. Dr. Thomas Duffy, a Yale Medical School hematologist, was concerned with times when a patient's decision- making capacity may be impaired. Dr. Eric Cassel of Cornell Medical College suggested that disease is the clinical manifestation such as cancer or diabetes, while illness is the patient's experience of the symptoms and treatment, and believed both must be addressed by the clinician. He added that the final health care decision belongs to the patient, but the health professional must dispute it if he regards it as less than optimal. Other sessions of the conference were devoted to the discussion of how communication with the patients and families can elicit either a shared understanding, or separateness and isolation, with ensuing consequences. For example, there is a difference between saying "You'll have to wait outside until we're finished" and "I have a five-year-old son, and I wouldn't want to watch him go through this procedure," when a child is having an IV inserted.
Publication Name: Holistic Medicine
H.O.P.E. and healing in Maine
The H.O.P.E. (Healing of Persons Exceptional) groups, started two years ago in Maine and modeled after Dr. Bernie Siegel's Exceptional Cancer Patients groups, offer support to patients with serious illnesses, as well as their families and friends. Participants use the group to supplement basic medical services. The group format is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), where participants meet once a week to share experiences and feelings and offer support and information to each other. H.O.P.E. groups differ in that they have a group facilitator, and they close each meeting with fifteen minutes of guided imagery. Guided imagery is a therapeutic technique whereby a facilitator helps the patient conjure internal images that help him connect to personal needs associated with his illness. H.O.P.E. participants become motivated to research their disease and treatment choices, and to focus on quality of life by gaining awareness of what they truly want. Patients report feeling they are living new lives, having learned to eliminate activities which they lost interest in and to begin new ones they have enthusiasm for. The H.O.P.E. organization has also begun hospice work, home health care and support for terminally ill patients. The new H.O.P.E. center in Norway, Maine will hold seminars and intensive workshops as well as group meetings, and has a library of books, cassettes and videotapes.
Publication Name: Holistic Medicine
Homeopathy: gentler healing? Or watered-down deception?
Homeopathy is a controversial alternative therapy that uses highly diluted substances to treat illness. Health consumers considering homeopathy should realize that its results are unproven, its products are not regulated and it can be dangerous if used to treat a serious illness.
Publication Name: Mayo Clinic Health Letter
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