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Integrative Medicine in the Community Health Setting

Myles Spar, MD, MPH, is Director of Integrative Medicine at the Venice Family Clinic Simms/Mann Health and Wellness Center, and a clinical instructor in Internal Medicine and Family Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. This speaker lectured for the UCLA summer course MED 180, "Introduction to Integrative East-West Medicine for Health and Wellness," which took place from June 23-August 1, 2014.

In this talk, Dr. Myles Spar of the Venice Family Clinic (VFC) emphasizes how to bring integrative medicine (IM) into the community setting, and thus empower patients with principles of prevention. Because the rates of chronic disease are high in underserved communities, IM’s focus on lifestyle changes and preventative approaches can prove useful in a community clinic. The two top conditions seen at Spar’s Venice clinic are chronic pain and stress, for which Western medicine does not have much to offer and are often caused by patients’ line of work.. Most of the patients seen at the Venice clinic are minority patients, many without health insurance (though this may have changed with the Affordable Care Act).

The Venice Family Clinic aims to provide a wide range of modalities including conventional medicine, acupuncture, massage, yoga therapy, and social work. Patients are educated on self-care methods, and the staff and providers are educated as well, specifically on the different modality options. The providers interact with each other and learn from each other’s methods, helping to direct their patients to the appropriate practitioners and modalities. In the clinic, they are also working on presenting their integrative treatment and diagnoses findings in the more well-known language of Western medicine. This is being done with the consideration that patients may have to relay information between the various doctors and practitioners they see. The clinic’s providers are also trained in mindfulness and have mindfulness sessions to learn how to leave their personal stressors behind for when they enter the patient’s room and to be in the present moment for the patient’s sake.

It is found that this clinic population alone cares about health improvement and prevention of future problems, which are top reasons for patient referral. The Venice Family Clinic is now part of an IRB approved multi-site study, which observes the use and effectiveness of IM in the real-world community setting. The VFC is the only underserved site, bringing down the income and education levels of these aggregated studies to a more average, representative level. The data collection results of Spar’s “Brief Pain Inventory Survey,” indicate that interference of performance due to pain and severity of pain reduced after treatment and severity after treatment. In conclusion, integrative medicine is showing to have promising results in underserved community settings.


Click here to read more about the MED 180 course.


Lecture summary generated by Harini Kompella, Volunteer Writer, UCLA


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