Creating Healthy Families

June 12, 2014

This week, the Institute launched a new tool to help families with small children talk about wellness and healing. It is a book, Maya’s Enchanted Threadwritten to a 7-9 year old reading level and intended to be read with a parent or other adult.

The book follows the framework of Samueli Institute’s evidence-based Optimal Healing Environments research as it tells the story of a young girl’s journey toward optimal health. The tale is told through colorful characters and in clear, simple prose—created by talented author and illustrator Marzia Motta—in a way that makes conversations about important topics such as exercise, nutrition and friendship fun.

Also this week, our Well Community Project sponsored a family wellness event in Washington, DC. Samueli Institute partnered with LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and BBAR (Building Bridges Across the River) to host a community wellness event at THEARC in conjunction with the Ward 8 Farmers Market. You can see somegreat photos of our Senior Director John Ives, PhD, leading Tai Chi classes for the community on our Facebook page.

Continuing our commitment to build a flourishing society, Samueli Institute announced the speakers slated to participate in our wellness track at the Military Child Education Coalition® National Training Seminar. The event at the end of July will help provide parents, educators and adult allies of children of military families with training in basic self-care techniques. Samueli Institute has curated two days of national experts in nutrition, health care, fitness and mind-body practices to help military families cope with stress, eat right and thrive.

I am excited about this convergence of community, family and wellness as the Institute moves forward in its national strategy to create a flourishing society.

You can get involved as well. The Military Child Education Coalition® is still accepting registrations for the National Training Seminar in DC this July, or you can help support our work by sponsoring a parent or teacher in need to attend. Visit their website to learn more. 


Healing Practices in the U.S. Military

May 13, 2014

Since Samueli Institute was founded in 2001, our core mission has been to uncover the science of healing, build the evidence base for traditional and complementary medicine, and translate that evidence into action. This month marks the end of a large program completed by the Institute over 8 years investigating and helping to implement healing practices for our Service members and their families.

Healing practices have found a home is in the U.S. Military because more than a decade of war has left them in a crisis. The shortcomings of the American medical system are nowhere more apparent than in the overstressed military and veteran’s health care systems, and military leaders are motivated to find and deploy what works.

By conducting high-quality research, Samueli Institute established what works for many healing practices to help leaders make sound, evidence-based decisions—allowing the military both to respond to the changing needs of its mission, tactics and technology, and to help service members and veterans recover from more than a decade of war.

This month Samueli Institute launched a new multi-media report documenting the impact of our research on military and veteran populations. Through case studies, videos and summaries, the report details the success of integrative health practices in the military.

Many of the programs Samueli Institute embarked upon with military partners were the first of their kind to understand the nature, value and validity of integrative health and healing. Together we helped find the evidence-base for treatments such as acupuncture, meditation, yoga and chiropractic care to assist our service members and veterans cope, recover and return after more than a decade of war.

By working side-by-side with active duty personnel, Samueli Institute has helped shape the thinking and approaches that have been incorporated into the training and the expansion of therapeutic tools to improve performance, identify effective drugless pain relief, and cope with the trauma and stress of war.

These modalities are supported by evidence and available at a low cost, can be self-initiated and woven into existing military curricula and essential programs. Samueli Institute’s systematic, multi-method approach to research on healing enhances performance and provides safer and more effective treatments for pain, chronic disease and stress conditions.

As this report illustrates, time and time again our research and consulting work with the military and Veterans Health Administration has shown that evidence points not toward isolated practices, but to the elements of a coordinated approach that focuses on the service member as a whole person whose performance is enhanced when peers, leaders and support services come together as a unified system.

Because we are a not-for-profit organization with a service-oriented mission, we are able to work in true partnership in our contracts with the military, jointly focused on the mission to build a healthier, stronger, more resilient military. The defense of our nation requires this.

Samueli Institute is honored to have supported the mission of our armed forces and we look to extend our impact into the civilian sphere, including in health care systems and communities to help build a flourishing society.


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Why Self-Care Pain Medicine?

April 15, 2014

Chronic pain is a major problem and takes a terrible toll not only on individuals suffering from chronic pain but also on our health care system at large. Addressing it is the responsibility of us all, but we have fallen into a trap.

The massive amount of money invested in research, advertising, and delivery of drugs (nearly $30 billion a year in each activity), especially opioid medications, and other expensive, practitioner-dependent interventions for the treatment of pain has overwhelmed our approach to this condition and obscured other less expensive and more sustainable treatments, particularly those that patients can do themselves.

As stated by COL Chester Buckenmeier III and LTG (RET) Eric Schoomaker in the preface article of a new report published by Samueli Institute as a supplement to Pain Medicine this month:

“At its most basic, pain has been seen historically as a symptom of some other disease or trauma, rather than a disease process of the central and peripheral nervous system that medicine now understands chronic pain embodies. Both the Institute of Medicine and Pain Management Task Force reports charged the medical community to acknowledge that effective pain management requires therapies that treat the whole patient, both physically and through a holistic biopsychosocial model, while also educating the country that chronic pain is a national health problem.”

More holistic, active, self-care, complementary, and integrative medicine (ACT-CIM) therapies, if effective, should be more sustainable and cost-effective than drug and practitioner dependent treatments. In addition, they are likely to provide additional benefits such as the enhancement of self-efficacy, lower cost, and be self-directed.

But are they effective and, if so, which ones and at what intensity and duration?

It is the purpose of this systematic review to determine which ACT-CIM therapies are effective in pain management. 

The systematic review process, known as the Rapid Evidence Assessment of the Literature (REAL©), used for reviewing this information has been developed by Samueli Institute over a number of years. It includes a combination of current state of the art systematic review methodologies and a balanced expert panel process to make evidence-based recommendations for research, practice, and policy.

The authors discuss the review’s methodology and results throughout the supplement. ACT-CIM modalities included in this review were categorized into the following groups and assessed for efficacy: mind–body therapies, movement therapies, physically-oriented therapies, and sensory art therapies.

Multi-modal integrative approaches and ACT-CIM approaches, when directly compared with each other, were also assessed for effectiveness. Each of the Pain Medicine articles describes the review’s results for each category, detailing the quality of individual studies as well as subject matter expert recommendations based on analyses of the overall literature pool. Additionally, the authors also describe which ACT-CIM modalities may be most effective for different types of chronic pain conditions and provide suggestions for next steps for moving this field of research forward. 

Based on the results of this extensive review, weak recommendations were given in favor of using yoga, tai chi, and music for the self-management of chronic pain symptoms. No recommendations, moreover, could be given for mindfulness/meditation, relaxation, self-correcting exercises, biofeedback, acupressure, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, Qi Gong, autogenic training, guided imagery/self-hypnosis, journaling, and storytelling. Many of these modalities are already in fairly extensive use in medicine. However, given the poor state of the research, it is likely that they are not being used most effectively or efficiently. 

It is clear that a substantially greater investment in researching ACT-CIM areas is urgently needed. In addition, significant improvements are needed in quality research if gains are to be made in these types of approaches. Currently, there are few economic drivers to do research on or use many of these modalities and so we end up not knowing enough about their safety and efficacy to recommend them. Without such an investment or policies that create such drivers, ACT-CIM therapies for pain will likely only slowly gain acceptance and use.

We hope that this supplement issue on the state of the science for these approaches can catalyze further investment in research and adoption of these most important approaches. Those with chronic pain cannot afford to wait.

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Cultivating Healthy Habits

March 11, 2014

Healthy behaviors can enhance well-being. They prevent, treat or even cure disease. Making good food choices, exercising, relaxing and avoiding unhealthy behaviors are important to lifelong health and wellness. The trick is in knowing how we can change to healthy habits.

I wanted to talk this month about two things Samueli Institute is doing to help educate individuals to make healthy choices. The first is a world-class conference for health care professionals that will take place later this month in Napa, California, Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives. The conference is collaboration between Samueli Institute, the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard School of Public Health that immerses primary care physicians and other health professionals in the state of the science in nutrition, and then teams them with professionals from the Culinary Institute of America to give them skills in planning and preparing healthy meals at home.

Over the years thousands of health care professionals have learned new skills and gained confidence in both the academics of nutrition science and the practical knowledge to turn science into action. The course is led by Samueli Institute Executive Vice President David Eisenberg, MD, who last year published results of follow-up surveys with participants in JAMA Internal Medicine that showed physicians who attended Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives reported significant changes in frequency of cooking their own meals, personal consumption of healthier food choices, greater awareness of their caloric consumption, and increased ability to assess a patient’s nutritional status and advise on nutrition and lifestyle habits.

Moreover physicians who ate more healthy diets were more apt to counsel their patients on healthier eating and lifestyle habits, thus paying the healthy habit forward and making smart choices contagious. To support individuals in their efforts to create healthy habits at home and use the principals of the Optimal Healing Environment in their daily lives, Samueli Institute created an online resource, Your Healing Journey, which offers basic background information on healthy living and self-care. We also developed a set of online tools to provide introductory videos on everything from meditation to journaling to Tai chi. Since we launched the project last year we have distributed thousands of copies of the book in communities of need around the country.

You can help share this free resource on your base, in your place or in your community by sharing the link

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Building HOPE in Health Care

February 3, 2014

In December 2013, Dr. Don Berwick used the occasion of his keynote address to the 25th  Annual Forum of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to identify pioneers in health care who he felt could help navigate the current system from health care to health creation.

Samueli Institute President and CEO Wayne Jonas, MD, was among those singled out by Berwick in the speech—specifically for Jonas’ work designing a framework to support healing and salutogenesis, the Optimal Healing Environment framework. In the video below, recorded earlier this year at Samueli Institute’s Alexandria, Virginia, offices, Dr. Jonas offers an introduction to Optimal Healing Environments. 

OHE Video

To learn more about Samueli Institute’s Optimal Healing Environment framework and how your organization can get on a path to healing, visit us online.

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Preparing for the Year Ahead

January 2, 2014

As we begin the New Year, I send my heartfelt thanks to the staff at Samueli Institute and all our partners collaborating with us to create a flourishing society through research and education on healing and whole person well-being. Because of your commitment and hard work, the world is a better place. 

As we prepare for 2014, Samueli Institute looks forward to approaching our core mission with innovation and vigor. This coming year will find us launching trailblazing initiatives, forging new strategic alliances and leveraging years of scientific exploration to effect change.

The goal is to integrate all our activities so that leaders and influencers seeking to increase the health and well-being of their organizations and communities can better employ the research and networks the Institute has built. By structuring our activities as a flexible set of services, we hope that leaders will be able to use the Institute to more rapidly and robustly embed change into their settings. One of our key activities in this effort is the Wellness Initiative for the Nation (WIN). WIN works with national and international leaders to influence policies and practices that increase health and wellness behaviors. To do this, the Institute is engaged in a number of ongoing activities with thought leaders around the world, including the Creating Wellbeing Leadership Group (CWLG), the RAND / Samueli Institute Chair and Program for Policy Research, and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

The CWLG links public sector leaders, such as federal government workers and policy makers, with those in the private sector. Through regular meetings led by Samueli Institute and the Institute for Alternative Futures, the CWLG is planning a national summit to shift the paradigm from disease care to health and wellbeing creation. 

Through the RAND / Samueli Institute Chair for Policy Research, Samueli Institute and RAND Corporation seek to improve private and public decision making by supplying policymakers and the public with empirical data, information and analysis about complementary, alternative and integrative health care.

Our focus on strengthening healthy communities worldwide is augmented by collaborations with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative to deliver tools for well-being and healthy living to communities in need. In parallel, we have formed a “Council of Elders” for the Community Wellness Program, a Kellogg Foundation funded program which supports underserved communities in Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana and the District of Columbia. 

Of course, Samueli Institute will continue our work with active-duty military and veterans to help them improve performance, reduce chronic symptoms and build strong, resilient military communities through programs like Acupuncture in the Military, the Healthy Base Initiative and support for the VA’s Centers of Excellence in Integrative Medicine. 

As we move into the new year, we look forward to expanding the impact of the Institute by helping to translate science into action for health, healing and human flourishing. 

Thanks to all our staff and partners, and I am looking forward to a great 2014. 

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Consider the Whole Patient

December 2, 2013

What should patients and doctors do with competing health research information? The New York Times asked me to weigh in on that topic in response to new, controversial statin guidelines rolled out by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) earlier this month. The debate about the news got me thinking about the importance of how we synthesize and interpret research and scientific evidence in the effort to transform our health care system from disease care to health and well care.

Samueli Institute has contributed its share of scientific research to that effort, much of which has been in the form of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Some people know the phrase “systematic review” but few realize that these research methodologies are the gold standard in evidence-based medicine—ranking even higher than double-blind randomized control trials.

Systematic reviews are the highest standard of research because they synthesize a comprehensive body of research to determine the best available evidence for the effectiveness of a practice or treatment. Systematic reviews are scientific explorations in themselves. They are, as the name implies, systematic and carefully structured approaches to integrating primary sources of research.  Through a series of transparent steps that can be easily replicated, experts engaged in a systematic review develop clear criteria and score existing data sets for inclusion and exclusion and quality so that the evidence can be thoroughly evaluated. 

The Institute has streamlined this approach and improved on its rigor by developing careful rule books for applying this approach, automating the process to reduce errors, and carefully training any subject matter experts involved.  We then go a step further and organize the evidence interpretation process by using a modified, structured, transparent Delphi process that balances and captures expert judgment in order to carefully manage the bias in any attempt to use evidence.  If the AHA and ACC had used such a process, the reasons for their recommendations and uncertainty that accompanies it would be more transparent and adaptable to clinical practice and policy.  We recommend that all evidence based medicine use similar approaches. 

This February, Samueli Institute experts will offer a three-day course in the art and science of conducting a systematic review at a workshop hosted by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) on February 21-23, 2014. This is a unique opportunity to get hands-on training on systematic reviews, including learning how to assess the quality of studies and the management of bias and judgment.  

If this topic is at all of interest to you or could benefit your own research or organization, please reserve a seat for this small workgroup now and I’ll see you in San Diego in February.

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Why are We Stuck on Acupuncture Research?

November 5, 2013

If you asked me what one of our most impactful fields of study has been at Samueli Institute, our research on acupuncture would rise to the top. Our extensive research is making acupuncture more available to our Service members, veterans and families to support our warfighters both on the battlefield and the home front.

Samueli Institute helped paved the way for Service members to find relief with an ancient tradition rather than a prescription pad. Our team has done this by studying the effectiveness of acupuncture; showing acupuncture’s feasibility in high-stress aeromedical evacuations; analyzing how acupuncture affects narcotic use and post-traumatic stress disorder; and collaborating with the military to increase access to the treatment.

Fighting Pain at the Root 

Unrelenting, debilitating pain affects millions of Americans. Twenty-five percent of U.S. adults report experiencing a full day of pain within the last 30 days and one in 10 said their pain lasted a year or more according to a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. 

What if I told you that our research shows the solution is in a treatment that’s been around for two thousand years? Or that this treatment helps with the entire mind-body-brain connection to pain and does not have side effects or dependence issues associated with it? Would you then be willing to give acupuncture a try?

A systematic review we completed using our rigorous REAL© methodology showed acupuncture to be effective for treating headaches and seemed to be a promising treatment option for anxiety, sleep issues, pain and depression. 

These are all symptoms found in the Trauma Spectrum Response (TSR). TSR refers to the complex interaction between pain, psychological distress and physical function. It is a whole person response to dealing with stress and injury. 

Acupuncture works well in this area because instead of just eliminating a symptom, it gets down to the cause of the issues, healing the mind, body and spirit simultaneously.

Now Recruiting: Acupuncture for Headaches

One current study is examining what is the most effective treatment for headaches for Service members and veterans: traditional acupuncture, auricular (ear) acupuncture or treatment as usual. We are working with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to recruit patients for the study. 

The Way Forward

Our goals are to inform military researchers, clinicians and policy makers about the evidence base for acupuncture use, identify research gaps, and to work with leaders to integrate acupuncture into care paradigms in a variety of military environments to combat pain and stress. 

I encourage you to learn more about our work with acupuncture. Watch this video of Licensed Acupuncturist Alaine Duncan talking about how acupuncture helps regulate the body, and share it with a friend or on Facebook.


New Research-Based Resources Empower Individuals to Heal

October 8, 2013

Would you believe me if I said you hold the ability to heal and be well in your own hands? 

The choices you make, the people and places surrounding you, and even your inner-most thoughts impact your inherent healing capacity. As we deal with daily stress, illness and injury, our mind, body and spirit continually tap into our natural healing ability. A new resource, Your Healing Journey, transforms more than a decade of research on the science of healing into an actionable framework of self-care. 

Though an e-book and instructional videos, Your Healing Journey explores the changes that individuals can make today to create an environment in their lives, at home, at work and their communities that support these natural healing abilities. 

As the President and CEO of Samueli Institute, a non-profit research organization dedicated to the science of healing, I made a commitment to empower individuals with this new resource at the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters Conference in January, 2013. 

Now, the e-book is available for download at

 at no cost as part of our commitment to the Foundation. Books will also be distributed in physical form by Clinton Foundation staff in their communities of focus.

Not All Cure Comes in a Bottle

Our health care system has conditioned us to believe that cure can come only at the hands of a medical professional or drug company—and that it’s the same thing as being healed. It is not.

For the past decade, Samueli Institute has worked to uncover how healing occurs among individuals, communities and health care systems. This led to the development of the Optimal Healing Environments framework to show how the components of an organization can affect the ability of those within it to heal. 

This framework has been used successfully within hospitals and health care systems to improve the quality of care that patients receive. 

We need to transition our health care system from a disease management model to a focus on wellness and whole person-healing. When individuals have the resources to create well-being and are supported in their efforts to build healthy lives, families and communities, only then will we see improvements in health outcomes and a decrease in health care costs.

Healing gives us a sense of meaning in hardship, hope in suffering and peace at the end of life. Cure means that the signs and symptoms of a disease or injury are gone. However, some may continue to experience distress even after their condition has been cured, meaning that they have not been fully healed. This differentiation is explored in depth in Your Healing Journey to help those dealing or recovering from an illness to live fully. 

This differentiation is especially poignant in our work with the United States military who deal with the compounding effects of a decade of war on its Service members, families and communities.

Science-Backed, Whole-Person Care for Our Military and Veterans

Our collaboration with the military has allowed Samueli Institute to leverage more than a decade of research into action and help expand drugless approaches to pain management, alleviate post-traumatic stress (PTS), develop resilience and improve human performance. The impact of this research in action has been profound.

The evidence points towards a coordinated approach that focuses on the service member as a whole person. By improving leadership, resilience and performance from a whole-systems view—beginning with recruitment and ending with retirement or separation—the military is working to heal those who have given so much of their lives to serve our country. Many continue to struggle long after they return home, suffering from the invisible wounds of war. And our country continues to pay for that.

Nearly each day of 2012, a service member committed suicide. This exceeds the number of active duty personnel who died from combat. Through April of 2013, the numbers have increased, with approximately one suicide every 18 hours.

Although we have a long way to go in this battle, the successes are here.

Results from our evaluation of a training program of self-regulation skills on those routinely exposed to acutely stressful situations, could have a profound impact on those in combat. The training program teaches individuals how to recognize and stabilize their own and others’ physiological and emotional responses to traumatic stress using a set of self-regulating skills. By reducing critical errors and improving performance, this training may build resilience to stress while also improving performance.

We are also working with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital (FBCH), one of the military’s largest health care communities just outside of Washington, D.C., to bring together the installation and hospital staff for the common purpose of creating a healing environment for the military and civilian patients of FBCH. This whole-systems approach is essential for health and well-being, and focuses on the components of health and the importance of self-care while containing costs through disease prevention and health creation.

Bring Health Back into Health Care

Through our work, we bring healing back into health care. It is only through a whole-person, whole-systems approach that we will shift the tide away from treating a disease to creating and enhancing health and well-being. Start your journey towards well-being today at




Healthy Kitchens Healthy Lives



September 10, 2013

At Samueli Institute, we focus on researching healing processes that can improve human performance, enhance wellness and ameliorate chronic disease to create a flourishing society focused on wellness and health. As a family physician I have personal perspective on the role of the clinician as a driving force in the quest to reverse current trends in public health and build a world where health and wellness are the norm. 

Studies have shown that physicians who practice healthy behaviors, such as exercising, wearing a seatbelt or not smoking, are more likely to advise their patients to do the same. Now evidence suggests that health care professionals with training in nutrition and hands-on knowledge of food preparation are more likely to talk to their patients about healthy eating.

My friend and colleague, 

Dr. David Eisenberg

, published the results of a survey of clinicians with training in the culinary arts in 

JAMA Internal Medicine

 earlier this year. David’s research letter showed that physicians who attended 

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives

, a four-day conference on nutrition coupled with hands-on cooking demonstrations, not only increased their own healthy behaviors, but also reported that they were more apt to counsel their patients on healthier eating and lifestyle habits.



Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives

, which is jointly presented by Harvard School of Public Health, Culinary Institute of America and Samueli Institute, offers a unique opportunity for health care professionals to learn to identify healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and learn when to refer to a nutritionist. Over the course of four days, attendees learn cooking skills and menu planning with an emphasis on eating healthy on a budget—preparing healthy, delicious meals for less than $3 per person.

> We are currently accepting registrations for the next Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference in Napa Valley, California in March 2014. To get a look at the facility and learn a little more about this CME-accredited course, take a moment to 

watch a short video

 about the conference.

I am very excited about this partnership with Harvard School of Public Health and Culinary Institute of America and believe that with David’s leadership as Samueli Institute’s Executive Vice President for Health Research and Education, the Institute will continue to innovate, educate and create a flourishing society.


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Taking the Measure of Well-Being

August 7, 2013

recently sat down with Samueli Institute researchers and staff and discuss the Optimal Healing Environment (OHE). It was a chance for us to put our heads together and share what we are learning in the field and how we are working to help health care organizations enhance their healing capabilities.

One thing we all agreed upon is the growing need for healing and wellness in health care and the culture at large. The U.S. is first in spending for health care services, yet ranked only 38th in overall health. At current cost rates, health care will make up 25 percent of the gross national product by 2025 and 49 percent by 2082.

Demographics are against us on both sides. The first of the “baby boomers” turned 65 in 2011,starting an avalanche of aging care needs that will bury the current Medicare system. Meanwhile, our children are becoming more obese and type II diabetes is on the rise. Their life expectancy may be lower than that of their parents. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine, “Shorter Lives, Poorer Health,”summarized the grim statistics. The bottom line is that we are declining in almost all categories of health faster than any other developed country.

The message behind the statistics is clear– even in a country with some of the best medical care in the world, we need to do not just better, we need to do different. It is essential that we focus on health creation and whole person well-being, not just disease and treatment.

The way forward is paved by new tools and processes that will improve care and facilitate health and well-being for people wherever they live, work and play. Samueli Institute is working to develop and streamline those tools for enhancing health and well-being. I will describe two of those tools below.

Samueli Institute’s 360° OHE inventory© assesses and evaluates how healing and healing behaviors are integrated into the day-to-day practices of large and small health care systems. The 360° OHE inventory© provides administrators with a complete profile of their facility and offers a road map to better support an environment where all aspects—physical, emotional, spiritual, behavioral and environmental—are optimized to stimulate health, productivity and healing.

We have learned that a health care organization cannot become an Optimal Healing Environment unless they also work to become an Optimal Healthy Workplace (OHW). Hospital and health care organizations that are successful in delivering healing-oriented practices are the ones that have focused on changing the culture of their employees first. To help with this effort Samueli Institute is developing a workplace assessment tool, the 360° OHW Inventory™.

Samueli Institute is now in the process of developing and testing the 360° OHW Inventory™ at a number of work sites. We presented a prototype of the tool to a group of wellness experts in Washington D.C., and again at the Global Healthy Workplace Award Summit in London last spring. We will be presenting it again to business leaders in Brazil and Chicago in the fall.

Data so far shows that the 360° OHW Inventory™ provides a rich array of information similar to the World Health Organization’s healthy workplace model, but is more easily measured online. When the data from the 360° OHW Inventory™ is displayed graphically the results show not only the strengths and weakness of an organization’s success in creating well-being but also the degree of penetration into the organizational culture –a key metric for predicting success in becoming a productive and healing organization.

Once the evaluation is complete and organization leaders know where they are in the process of becoming an OHE or OHW they can then develop a clear focus and step-wise plan to improve outcomes, reduce costs and enhance productivity.

We invite hospitals, accountable care organizations, and health care leaders to take our 360° OHE Inventory™ and evaluate the status of healing-oriented practices in your facility. We also invite businesses to help us further develop the 360° OHW Inventory™. With it they will learn the state of their organization’s cultural well-being and potential for enhanced productivity.

For more information on the 360° OHE or OHW Inventories, contact us at

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Researching the Science of Healing

July 10, 2013

Last week, Liz Szabo of USA Today presented a lengthy feature on complementary and alternative health care, largely framed around the publication of a new book by Paul Offit, M.D., Do You Believe in Magic. Both Szabo and Offit spend time of their work recounting issues surrounding false claims and a lack of scientific rigor in some aspects of complementary and alternative medicine. 

Both writers are correct that it is crucial to establish an evidence base for any and all healing claims whether they are “conventional” or “alternative.” Unfortunately, too many claims in both systems of medicine have too little evidence to provide confidence in their claims. Fortunately, Samueli Institute has strived to provide the evidence for healing practices or more than a decade. It has now systematized that process in its Scientific Evaluation and Review of Claims in Healthcare (SEaRCH™). No longer does any health care practice need to rely on magic. 

Since 2001, Samueli Institute researchers have published nearly 600 peer-reviewed journal articles providing new data in both basic science and clinical findings as summarizing current evidence by doing rigorous systematic reviews on the effectiveness of modalities such asacupuncturechiropractic carehealing touch, and mindfulness to aide with pain relief, stress management, and resilience. 

Our collaborations with the United States Armed Forces have allowed Samueli Institute to leverage more than a decade of research into action and help expand drugless pain management, alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), develop resilience and improve human performance. The impact of this research in action has been powerful.
In 2010, The U.S. Air Force and Samueli Institute developed the first-known training program to teach military physicians a simple acupuncture procedure to deliver pain relief without medication. The success of this program led to an expansion to include integrating acupuncture into aeromedical evacuations from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Andrews Air Force Base.

Last year, Samueli Institute collaborated with Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine on a randomized controlled trial of returning combat-exposed Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The study found that combat Marines receiving Healing Touch combined with guided imagery treatments showed a significant reduction in PTSD than their peers who received treatment as usual alone.

Why is this research important? Because unless we find new and less costly ways to help veteran’s self-heal our costs for caring for service members and their families will soar out of sight. A recent analysis by Linda J. Bilmes of Harvard Kennedy School of Government showed that the health care costs of the 10 year wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may reach $3 to $4 trillion.  Peak costs will likely be 30 to 40 years from now. Already in 2017 military medical costs may reach 18 percent of all Defense costs. Such growth is unsustainable. Only lower cost interventions that facilitate salutogenesis (self-healing and recovery) and teach people self-care skills can reduce these costs sustainably.  That is why we regularly evaluate where we are with these interventions using SEaRCH™

These are just a few examples of the way that an open-minded and scientifically rigorous approach to healing can net positive outcomes for patients in need and provide new approaches for our health care systems. Samueli Institute believes that by providing unbiased evaluations of the science of healing and building coalitions to convert science into action we can build a healthy and flourishing society.

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Translating the Science of Healing

June 4, 2013

Samueli Institute took a huge leap forward this week as we launched a new research portal on our public website. As a nonprofit research organization dedicated to exploring the science of healing starting in 2001, we have supported and collaborated in research with more than 50 universities and institutions around the world. The resulting research generated more than 800 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and other publications. As of today all of that research is available online in a free searchable database.

This information has been utilized by U.S. military and Veterans Health Administrations and adopted by health care organization and corporations, and is now available to the public. It is my hope that through the dissemination of this research we can help transform health care and create a flourishing society through viable, less costly, evidence-based options.

Through our new portal, visitors can find research on natural products, nutrition and lifestyle, mind-body practices, pain and stress management, optimal healing environments, and complementary and integrative approaches such as acupuncture, manipulation, yoga and the placebo (meaning) effect. 

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Also this week Samueli Institute released its 2012 Annual Report. As I reviewed the compiled highlights of our efforts over the past year I saw a common theme of growth and expansion into knowledge translation. Our impact in the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and civilian health care sites and now, workplaces, continues to grow. 

We expanded our staff; with 15 new employees, and were honored to add our board of directors. Our strong commitment to knowledge translation endures through the formalization of our service offerings that include educational workshops and trainings, research services, a speakers bureau, and a variety of assessments and evaluation services, and now this publically available database of research. In 2012, we disseminated the results of our work and research through more than 80 journal articles, two books, eight book chapters, 18 scientific meetings and over 140 presentations. As we continue to grow, cultivate new relationships and widen our sphere of partners, we invite you to join us in our efforts to transform health care through the science of healing. 



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No Economic Driver for Wellness?

May 10, 2013

Where is the economic driver for wellness? That is a question I asked rhetorically on May 9, 2013. I was testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to voice my support for efforts to promote greater integration of complementary and alternative approaches into the provision of veterans’ health. 

The problem, I explained to the Senators and the assembled gallery, is that while complementary, alternative and integrative medicine approaches have been shown to be effective and money-saving, they often get ignored because there is no economic driver—no drug, no device, no profit motive—to impel individuals to advocate for them. 

In my testimony I stated my strong support for greater integration of evidence-based complementary and alternative approaches—such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, guided imagery, meditation and mindfulness—into veterans’ health care after the clinical and outcomes evidence for their effectiveness is established. These approaches are usually also low cost and have positive side effects.

In more than ten years of armed conflicts, a large number of the nation’s veterans are exhibiting what I term the trauma spectrum response—an array of symptoms, including pain, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, excessive drug use and social isolation resulting from multiple deployments or a battlefield insult, like an explosion or other trauma.

These symptoms often progress to chronic conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain; and most of these people and families are young, with a long battle for recovery in front of them. More and more, our nation is faced with the weighty imperative not only to attempt cure of our veterans’ combat wounds, but to help them to heal for the rest of their lives. The pilot programs described in the draft Veterans’ Health Promotion Act will help veterans to heal, because it will provide patient-centered approaches that restore them to personal and social wholeness.

Research  by Samueli Institute has shown the effectiveness of drugless, self-care and integrative practices for treatment of these prevalent conditions and for healing. Our research on acupuncture, mind-body, nutrition and self-care approaches with military and veterans has demonstrated that these practices can help heal and reset veterans to optimal well-being and function. This research has shown the growing use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices by veterans, and favorable outcomes for individuals who receive CAM in addition to standard care. VA practitioners are attempting to secure these practices for their patients, but encounter institutional barriers, limited availability and knowledge about these practices and by the status quo.

To appropriately address the policy and operational issues related to the transition of complementary and alternative medicine approaches into the VA’s health care operations and infrastructure, I recommend a centralized, coordinated, rapid translational program to inform the VA’s decisions on benefits, manpower, infrastructure and management.

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