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What is Whole Person Primary Care

Whole person primary care is just good medicine. It is person-centered, relationship-based care, and it takes into account the social, spiritual, emotional, and behavioral aspects of health as well as the environment in which the person lives.

To be effective, whole person care must use an integrative approach that coordinates the delivery of evidence-based conventional medical care, complementary medicine, and lifestyle medicine within a primary care practice.

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Incorporating a whole person approach into mainstream primary care practices enables physicians, nurses, and other health care providers to:

  • Deliver higher quality advanced primary care.
  • Improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.
  • Lower costs.
  • Reduce burnout.

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Personal Health Inventory

Download a one-sheet for your patients to fill out before their visit. It assesses their meaning and purpose, current health and readiness for change.

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How does whole person care work in practice?

If you are interested in practicing whole person primary care, each one of these case studies shows one tool or method to try in your practice.

Integrative Primary Care Case Study
Case Study

A Return to the Craft of Healing with Patient-Centered, Team-Based Care

Patient-centered, team-based care enables physicians to develop the relationships—with patients and with team members—that are essential to health and healing.

Helping Patients With Chronic Diseases
Case Study

Helping Patients with Chronic Diseases and Conditions Heal with the HOPE Note

The HOPE (Healing Oriented Practices & Environments) Note is a simple tool for adding integrative health care to a routine office visit. This patient-guided process identifies the patient’s values and goals in life and for healing so the physician can assist the patient in meeting those goals with evidence and other support.

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Case Study

Chronic Disease Management with Group Visits

An estimated 60 to 70 percent of chronic disease is behavior- and lifestyle-based. Thus, most patients need information and help to promote healthy behaviors. Group visits enable physicians to work with patients in a supportive group environment to manage chronic diseases. They offer clinical, financial, and operational benefits, and contribute to integrative primary care.

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Case Study

Empowering Patients With Chronic Diseases to Live Healthier Through Health Coaching

Half of all adults in the United States have at least one chronic disease and 25 percent have two or more. Health coaching helps these patients understand their chronic disease(s) and actively participate in their care. Coaches support patients in developing and following action plans for healthier behaviors. Health coaching has clinical and operational benefits and contributes to integrative primary care.

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Case Study

Helping Patients Manage Chronic Pain with Integrative Primary Care

Integrative primary care enables providers to help patients treat and understand their pain and become actively engaged in making lifestyle, behavioral and self-care changes to manage their pain. This case study looks at a program providing non-pharmacologic chronic pain solutions for veterans run by a nationally recognized expert in integrative medicine, Henri Roca, MD, program director of the Integrative Medicine Patient Aligned Care Team at the Central Arkansas Veterans Administration Healthcare System.

Evidence Informed Decisions
Case Study

Evidence-Informed Decisions that Help Patients Live Longer, Better or Both

Information mastery enables physicians to make decisions by combining useful information that matters to patients with clinical experience. Information mastery on integrative care adds value to the delivery of health care by decreasing overdiagnosis, overtreatment and low-quality care. It provides a focus on key underlying determinants of health in chronic disease. This lowers health care costs. Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, MMedEd, of Tufts University School of Medicine discusses how to use evidence in primary care especially when providing integrative care.


Resources for Your Patient’s Healing Journey

Our patient guides cover the major concerns and aspects of managing a chronic condition, preventing disease, and regaining health and wellbeing.

  • financial impact
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  • exercise
  • pain
  • sexual health
  • cancer
  • moving & exercise
  • nutrition
  • supplements
  • cannabis
  • mental & spiritual health
  • sleep
  • self-care
  • woman’s health
  • adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer
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Now Available

“Healing and Cancer: A Guide to Whole Person Cancer Care” written by Alyssa McManamon, MD, and Wayne Jonas, MD published by Rodin Books, distributed by Simon and Schuster.

“Healing and Cancer” is intended to be read and actively used by teams caring for people with cancer and by caregivers and patients themselves to enhance healing, health, and wellbeing. “Healing and Cancer” directs readers to the best tools and resources available so that oncologists, primary clinicians, nurses, social workers, integrative practitioners, cancer care teams, patients with cancer and their caregivers, can incorporate whole person care into their own healing journey.

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