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Health Care is More of What?

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@Glowimages gws254060.Never before has society been so bombarded with the portrayal of health as a lucky break. Advertising is everywhere to convince us that it’s not normal to feel well.

No wonder a recent Pew study showed that 80% of adults who use the internet look for health information online. Sure, some people are satisfied with the care they’re receiving. But many are not. 100 million Americans say they live with a chronic health condition.

Naturally, health professionals are among those seeking various options to improve health and wellbeing. In 2007, researchers from UCLA and UC San Diego surveyed medical students across the nation, and found that 84% agreed conventional medicine would benefit by integrating more complementary and alternative medicine ideas and therapies. 99% agreed that a patient’s mental state influences his or her physical health, and 98% agreed that a patient’s treatment should take into consideration all aspects of his or her physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Some people feel that patients should consider only medicine proven to be effective in clinical trials. However, the 99% of medical students who agree that a patient’s mental state influences his or her physical health are onto something big, something that addresses the root of health concerns.

Not only are medical students investigating other options, but the public is searching for and trying new things. According to the NIH, adults in the U.S. spent $34 billion out-of-pocket in 2007 on non-conventional treatments and products.

In my own life, I’ve seen that the quality of my thought affects the quality of my health. Turning to a spiritual source improves health and wellness. A number of years ago when I first started teaching, I had a wart start to grow on my middle finger. It was located where I held the chalk or pencil to write. The area became painful and inflamed because I was continually using that hand to write while teaching. I tried holding the pencil or chalk in a different manner, but that just didn’t work for me. After awhile, the wart became larger and more ugly and my students began asking about it. I realized that I needed to do something about this condition. As was my usual practice, I prayed. After deep and sincere prayer for about a week, the wart fell off and I have never had a problem with warts since.

The Los Angeles Times published an article called “The X Factor of Healing,” in which the author addresses whether there is a spiritual factor that’s essential in healing. She cites studies that show no measurable link between a spiritual approach and better health, but she also points to some anecdotal evidence that some people found spiritual means to be a good option. It’s difficult to measure spirituality and wellness in a lab, but someone who’s experienced it knows how it feels.

People are searching for something more. Could it be that as both health professionals and the public continue to drill deeper into concepts of health and wellbeing as not split into various compartments of physical, mental, and spiritual elements, but as one whole, the “more” will crystallize?

photo © GLOW IMAGES  Model used for illustrative purposes

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About Don Ingwerson

Previously in the education sector as Superintendent of Schools, Don Ingwerson now serves as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Southern California and corrects misconceptions about Christian Science. Don is a frequent blogger about health and spirituality.