Friday, February 27, 2015

Better Health: It's a Group Thing

Usually a doctor's appointment is a one to one experience with the patient and the doctor discussing and monitoring the health of the patient.  Recently, medical treatment has been experimenting with group clinics or shared medical appointments where 10 to 20 people with the same medical condition meet on a regular basis with health care professionals (which included nurses, pharmacists and physicians) .  Apparently, these shared appointments create a better health outcome for the patient.  A recent study found diabetic patients to have significant improvements in their blood sugar and blood pressure over patients seen in the traditional fashion.
While the researchers could not explain why the shared medical appointment patients fared better, it seems they are ignoring basic social culture.  Support groups are organizations of people who share a common disorder, like depression or anxiety, and who meet together to discuss their experiences, share ideas, and provide emotional support for one another.  Support groups are also used for addiction, bereavement and many other issues.  The biggest advantage of support groups is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone -- that there are other people who have the same problems. This is often a revelation and a huge relief to the person.  Additionally, these groups help one develop new skills to relate to others. Further, the members of the group who have the same problems can support each other and may suggest new ways of dealing with a particular problem.  It is an environment that facilitates support and change. Even business coaching models, like Weight Watchers or professional coaches, use it.  And it is a recommended course of care for treatment of serious medical conditions.
A group also provides accountability to make changes.  Specifically, one is supported and gains approval for positive actions and one may fear embarrassment with back sliding.  One can achieve this type of accountability with a one to one coaching experience, and move forward in their health goals.  Some people prefer the one to one relationship, because they may feel intimidated by a group.  This one to one coaching interaction is better than a doctor/patient one because the coach has time to delve into the blocks of the patient and co-create a health plan that suits the patient.  People need support and a personal touch to move towards better health, whether it is in a group or individual setting.  The study's results show a team of people meeting many needs of the patients in supportive, frequent meetings.  This is the coaching model, and it clearly works. 
Stay healthy & well,

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