12 March 2018


Many of us have felt it. We all know it. Stress lowers psychological and physical resilience and in doing so adds a great deal to the health budget - costing us personally and drawing heavily on our Health Funds and Government spending.

Happily, many of us have felt the benefits of Mind-Body interventions (well proven to reduce stress and build resiliency). So the big question… How much can things like relaxation, mindfulness and meditation save us and our community? 

A good deal it would seem!

So this week, we examine one large study and link to a couple of earlier ones - and pose the question again… How long before your Health Fund realizes the benefits to be had and subsidises you to attend your meditation classes or use an effective, supportive App?, but first

           Thought for the day

   There is a bright pearl within me,
   Buried for a long time under dust.
   Today, the dust is gone and the light radiates,
   Shining through all the mountains and rivers.

         Master Yueh - The Golden Age of Zen 

Herbert Benson has been at the forefront of Mind-Body Medicine since publishing his first book The Relaxation Response in 1975. Benson was a contemporary of my first teacher Dr Ainslie Meares (First book - Relief Without Drugs - 1967), and we have much to thank them both for.

Benson was and still is an active Harvard medical academic and cardiologist.

He made the connection between stress and heart disease and realised meditation based upon deep relaxation could reduce blood pressure and actually reverse heart disease.

He has published many scientific studies as well as a few good books - international bestsellers actually!

Benson has been involved in this recent and important study that set out to estimate the effect of mind-body interventions on healthcare utilization Specifically, his team investigated the effect of the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP), comparing the health costs of 4452 meditators with that of 13,149 controls over a median period of 4.2 years. A good sized study.

At one year, total utilization for the intervention group decreased by 43% [53.5 to 30.5 be/yr]. Clinical encounters decreased by 41.9% [40 to 23.2 be/yr], imaging by 50.3% [11.5 to 5.7 be/yr], lab encounters by 43.5% [9.8 to 5.6], and procedures by 21.4% [2.2 to 1.7 be/yr]. The intervention group's Emergency department (ED) visits decreased from 3.6 to 1.7/year.  and Hospital and Urgent care visits converged with the controls.

Subgroup analysis (identically matched initial utilization rates-Intervention group: high utilizing controls) showed the intervention group significantly reduced utilization relative to the control group by: 18.3% across all functional categories, 24.7% across all site categories and 25.3% across all clinical categories.

Mind body interventions such as 3RP have the potential to substantially reduce healthcare utilization at relatively low cost and thus can serve as key components in any population health and health care delivery system.

Relaxation Response and Resiliency Training and Its Effect on Healthcare Resource Utilization. Stahl JE et al, PLoS One. 2015 Oct 13;10(10):e0140212. doi: 10.1371

How long before you are paid to meditate?
In this post from 2012, 2 other major studies showing cost savings of 30% and over 50% during a 5 year period are quoted and examined. Well worth a read!

And just think how much the insurance companies would have saved by now if they had started encouraging their members to meditate 6 years ago? Still, the good news is… Never to late to start…


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