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NCCIH Heads to Cleveland for ICIMH

Director’s Page
Helene M. Langevin, M.D.

April 5, 2024

It’s been an exciting few weeks for the team at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) as we’ve been preparing for the 2024 International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH), April 9–13 in Cleveland, Ohio.

This regular meeting is an important opportunity for researchers in the complementary and integrative health field to convene, share updates on their work, and exchange research findings and insights that can help generate new ideas and build on progress. For the NCCIH team, the conference is a chance to meet many of our grantees and other researchers in the field, hear about the challenges they are facing, and gain perspectives on how we can direct our efforts to foster the rigorous research needed to answer pressing health questions. 

In addition to our booth where we will have NCCIH staff sharing resources and available to answer questions, our team will participate in presentations throughout the conference. NCCIH program directors will address a wide range of topics, including career development, diversifying the workforce, capacity building in the field, engaging study participants across the digital divide, leveraging open access data repositories, bridging the gap between research and practice, and others. 

I’m thrilled to be joining a panel discussion on Thursday, April 11, with Jeffery Dusek, Ph.D., of the University of California, Irvine; Aaron Lee, M.D., of the University of Washington; Patricia Herman, Ph.D., N.D., of the RAND Corporation; and my NCCIH colleague, Emrin Horgusluoglu, Ph.D. Together, we’ll tackle the importance of exploring and embracing new strategies and methods for advancing research on whole person health

The challenge embedded in whole person research is to capture the impact of single or multiple interventions against a backdrop of numerous variables. During the discussion, I’ll be partnering with Dr. Herman to delve into one of the most important variables—time. 

Generally, researchers are quite expert at examining the impact of an intervention over short periods of time. In fact, I’d argue that most of our scientific knowledge is built on the health impacts that we measure over a few months or a few years. During our panel, Dr. Herman and I will explore the question—what is the impact of taking a whole person health approach over the course of a lifetime? We will offer a hypothetical case study that illustrates what happens when we consider health, and the cost of health care, through the conventional care model and through the prism of the whole person. 

Why costs? We believe that examining economic impacts is an important element in the whole person health conversation, because without visibility on the downstream benefits—both in terms of individual and societal costs—interventions that could offer meaningful benefits over the lifetime are liable to be met with disinterest or resistance if all that’s visible are the short-term costs. In short, siloed and compartmentalized approaches to care may not just compromise health. They could cost us more, especially in the long run. 

I’m also looking forward to the conversation with Alex H. Krist, M.D., M.P.H., of Virginia Commonwealth University during our plenary session devoted to exploring the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) report examining how the whole health model of care should inform research and policy. We’ll discuss how NASEM’s report can be leveraged to guide the significant systemic change and stakeholder collaboration that will be required to achieve the vision of whole person care models. 

If you are attending ICIMH, I invite you to join my session and all those led by my NCCIH colleagues. Please also plan to visit Booth 21 to meet members of our team and learn more about how to integrate NCCIH’s resources into your work. We look forward to these conversations and to seeing you in Cleveland! 

Helene M. Langevin, M.D.
Helene M. Langevin, M.D.