In his opinion piece, Dr Oppel misinformed BCMJ readers about the nature of InspireHealth and its programs [Cash-strapped BC government has money to burn. BCMJ 2011;53:547].
InspireHealth is a nonprofit society. InspireHealth’s eight physicians are on salary through the Ministry of Health. We engage cancer patients in their health through a patient-centred approach that supports healthful nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and patient empowerment and engagement. We support the excellent care provided at the BCCA.
Contrary to the false reality of Dr Oppel’s opinion piece, InspireHealth physicians do not sell, prescribe, or recommend “alternative” treatments. Dr Oppel is entitled to his own opinion about the value of InspireHealth’s patient-centred programs and the importance of engaging patients in health, but he is not entitled to his own reality.
The Samueli Institute (www.samueliinstitute.org), a leading US health care research organization, has identified InspireHealth as the leading example, worldwide, of patient-centred medicine and an optimal healing environment. The Samueli Institute received a $2.2 million research grant to study InspireHealth’s programs and their impact on patient empowerment, self-efficacy, sustained healthful lifestyle change, and survival.
There is a growing body of evidence that patient engagement in health may have as great an impact on outcomes in cancer treatment as it has had in the treatment of heart disease. In many respects, InspireHealth’s programs are the cancer equivalent of the Healthy Heart programs (e.g., at St. Paul’s Hospital and throughout North America).
At InspireHealth, we track worldwide research in the field of integrative cancer care (100 to 150 research articles are published each month in peer-reviewed journals). InspireHealth has the world’s largest research database in integrative cancer care research and two PhD researchers on staff, both of whom were researchers at the BC Cancer Research Centre.
Review of all InspireHealth patients with advanced breast, colon, and lung cancer over an 8-year period documented significantly longer survival compared with standard BC survival statistics. These studies were not randomized control trials and, therefore, must be interpreted as an association rather than definitive cause/effect since other factors may have influenced this outcome (e.g., InspireHealth patients may be more highly motivated or distinct in some other way compared with other BC cancer patients). However, these results are consistent with the growing body of evidence that engagement in health improves cancer outcomes.
This link provides a summary of the evidence in support of InspireHealth’s program. I invite BCMJ readers to visit our website (www.inspirehealth.ca) or to visit InspireHealth to learn about our innovative programs in patient-centred medicine and engagement in health.
—Hal D. Gunn, MD
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