Implementation of an Integrative Medicine Treatment Program at a Veterans Health Administration Residential Mental Health Facility

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Abstract

A 4-week interdisciplinary integrative medicine program was recently added to the core treatment offerings for veterans participating in the Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Program at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The new integrative medicine program teaches veterans about using meditative practices, nutrition, creative expression, tai chi, hatha yoga, sensory and breathing techniques, and lifestyle changes to enhance well-being. The groups are run by professionals from a variety of disciplines including recreation therapy, art therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, and nutrition. For the first 42 veterans to complete the program, the Short Form 12-item Health Survey was administered before and after participation in the integrative medicine program to assess the potential effectiveness of the program in enhancing physical and psychological well-being. In addition, a brief semistructured interview was used to assess veteran opinions about the program. Results suggest that the program was well received and that both physical and mental health scores improved from before to after treatment in this sample of veterans with complex behavioral health concerns.

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