Is Whole Patient Care a Path to Health Equity?
As part of our Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) Path to Empowerment, whole patient support is included in the path for patients. Our advocacy program called Rx for Community Wellness focuses on culturally competent whole person healthcare that treats the whole patient in tandem with existing care while also looking at health equity issues. As we prepare to launch into another series of Wellness Rx Meditation and Wellness Rx Nutrition programs, here’s a look at the programs and resources that are already available. The intention of these resources are to improve cancer care for all patients by providing meaningful mind-body tools that maximize well-being.
Equity Rx Webinars
Unfortunately, not every patient is starting from the same level in their healthcare. Health equity topics must be addressed to achieve equitable care for all, and the Equity Rx webinar series have provided an opportunity to address some of these issues. In the Equity Rx webinars, we pulled together a panel that included a cancer survivor, a naturopathic doctor, and a public health scientist. The panel members discussed the importance of culturally competent whole person cancer care to work toward improved cancer outcomes for all patients. Some of the topics covered in the Equity Rx webinars include:
- Ways that healthcare systems can better work toward whole person care
- Solutions to help overcome trauma and lack of trust to work toward healing
- Advice from a cancer survivor on how to work toward optimal patient care
- The effects of stress, anxiety, and depression on physical health
- How environmental conditions and personal experiences can impact health
- Existing barriers to diagnosis and a patient’s experience as a Mexican American
- Barriers to culturally competent care and how to address barrier issues
- Factors that whole person care examines and obstacles healthcare systems pose to patient care
Survey feedback about the Equity Rx and Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools have been extremely positive with 90.2% of survey respondents believing this program has given them a better understanding of the need for health equity. As more people become aware of health equity issues, they can also advocate on behalf of others to improve care for all patients.
In addition, 82.7% of survey respondents agreed they are very likely to share their story with others to raise awareness about the need for equitable care after the Equity Rx program. And through the process of sharing their personal experiences, patients can not only help educate others but may also be able to work through some of the emotional load of their cancer journeys.
One survey respondent also came away from the programs with motivation to add holistic care to part of their care team.
My hematologist is pretty responsive, but I don’t have a holistic doctor, and I’d like to get one. This program definitely raised my awareness of equity issues. Sasha was great explaining her issues. Thank you!
Another survey respondent shared how the programs instilled motivation to take a more active role in their care.
I will make more of an effort to get my team members to read information that has been shared on my tests and progress.
Equity Rx Crowdsourced Resource Guide
PEN recognizes the value of educational resources and in gathering input from a wide selection of people – whether they are patients, care partners, or patient advocates. In the printable and downloadable Equity Rx Crowdsourced Resource Guide, whole person care is described with an explanation of why whole person care is important in improving health outcomes for all patients. Equity Rx survey highlights are also shown in easy-to-read graphics in the resource guide along with crowdsourced solutions for working toward equitable healthcare.
Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools
Whole person care is a primary tenet of holistic medicine, and nutrition and meditation practices are two ways to incorporate holistic care. Holistic care is one way that can support patients in maintaining healthy minds and bodies. In the Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools, we created educational videos and transcripts to improve knowledge about meditation practices and nutrition to boost patient health. Meditation topics that were covered in the series include breathing, abdominal breath, chest breathing, body parts, body scan, complete breathing, joy, whole body, heart center, and breath counting. While nutrition topics covered in the series include the benefits of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, protein, and plant-based diets.
Access to health and wellness options are vital for all patients. We at PEN hope you can take advantage of the Rx for Community Wellness program resources and also share them with others to improve their care. Additional webinars and resources will be coming soon to help patients and care partners move toward improved empowerment, care, and support for their cancer journeys.