Integrative Medicine's Pragmatic Mission

David Rakel, MD


J Participat Med. 2013;5 

In This Article

Creating Expertise in Health

Understanding how complex biopsychosocial living beings heal is much more complicated than treating a disease. It requires that we develop a unique understanding of the individual's beliefs, lifestyle, and culture. Possibly even more challenging is for our medical system to put patients in charge of their health and shift our medical culture to a better balance between disease management and health creation. This shift in our intent requires that we take a more holistic and pragmatic view of achieving the outcomes we want for our patients within a dynamic and ever changing environment. This will be slow and difficult but, in the meantime, we should continue to invest in creating ongoing healing relationships. And for those who prefer to recommend epidural steroids over acupuncture, then prescribe the epidural steroid with enthusiasm and include all the PEECE ingredients.

Integrative medicine is not about simply studying therapeutic tools that are not traditionally used. It is about understanding how to use the most appropriate tools effectively to enhance health and healing. In doing so, we will evolve our research models to better understand this complexity (which includes the powerful nonspecific healing influences). When health is our common goal, we will become less fragmented as a health system because we will all be experts in understanding how complex systems heal. Health unites and disease segregates. This is true for our own medical culture as well for the patients we treat.