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HSR&D Researchers Contribute to National Academy’s Whole Health Report

June 12, 2023

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a report titled “Achieving Whole Health: A New Approach for Veterans and the Nation.” The report notes that “despite remarkable breakthroughs in innovations in treating disease, the United States has worse health outcomes than most other developed countries and at a substantially higher cost.” Further, Veterans represent a particularly vulnerable group that is at greater risk for poor health outcomes. Recognizing the complexity of Veterans’ healthcare needs, VA has developed a Whole Health System of care, which recognizes that good health is not only marked by the absence of disease, but by all of the factors that affect physical, emotional, social, and spiritual wellbeing.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Transforming Health Care to Create Whole Health: Strategies to Assess, Scale, and Spread the Whole Person Approach to Health was tasked with examining the potential for improving health outcomes through whole healthcare and recommending future directions and priorities for VA and other health systems. The volunteer committee included 17 members with the expertise needed to understand the needs of Veterans and VA, as well as the science of scale and spread needed to transform health systems into whole health organizations.

Their report cited the work of HSR&D and QUERI (Quality Enhancement Research Initiative) investigators who study and evaluate the implementation of the Whole Health System of Care within VA. Led by Dr. Barbara Bokhour, co-director of HSR&D’s Center for Healthcare Organization & Implementation Research (CHOIR) and principal investigator for the QUERI partnered evaluation center - Evaluating Patient-Centered Care – has been collaborating with VA’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural transformation (OPCC&CT) for more than 10 years, evaluating initiatives to bring Whole Health to VA medical centers. The reported cited work on:

  • Implementing personal health plans (Bolton et al., 2020);
  • Implementation and impact of tele-whole health services during the COVID pandemic (Khanna et al, 2022;
  • Lessons learned from VA’s rapid implementation of virtual whole health Anderson et al., 2022;
  • The positive impact of whole health on reducing opioid use among patients with chronic pain (Zeliadt et al., 2022); and
  • The positive impact of whole health on Veterans’ experiences of care and engagement with care. (Bokhour et al., 2022).

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