Mind-Body Medicine

09/03/2013

MBM Students Bring Some “Positive Deviance” to the 2013 National Wellness Conference

Char Conlin and Carrie Phelps
Char Conlin and Carrie Phelps

According to a conference presentation made by two Saybrook Mind-Body Medicine students, traditional health programs resemble "quick-fix" solutions, rather than leading to sustained change and long-term health improvements.

Carrie Phelps and Char Conlin are PhD students in Saybrook University's School of Mind-Body Medicine, in the Health Care Systems specialization.  They see themselves as collaborative scholar-practitioners on a long-term quest to transform the health promotion industry by creating awareness and programs that are truly driven from  the actual needs of  participants (on their individual self-care journeys).  On July 16, Carrie and Char conducted a breakout session called Contrary to Popular Practice: Building Wellness Programs for the 21st Century at the National Wellness Conference in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  This presentation was based on their pilot study that investigated the YMCA Healthy Lifestyle Program (HLP); their study was designed to examine and articulate the characteristics and attributes of a traditional health promotion program within an organizational setting. Areas of exploration relating to the program creation and implementation included the health worldviews of the staff, how people change, role of the individual, role of the group, role of the system, role of measurement, and role of a facilitator.

The findings from this multiple case study pilot were used as input for a health promotion conceptual map, which communicated key attributes and characteristics of program definition and execution. The conclusions regarding the Healthy Lifestyle Program asserted that it was a traditional, evidence-based behavior modification lifestyle program, which was highly structured and centered on a psycho-educational design. Results of the program were hard to track as no actual hard data was collected on the program.

After comparing the results of their study to the scientific literature on human motivation and health outcome maintenance, Carrie and Char concluded that traditional health promotion programs do not adequately address sustained change and long-term health outcomes.  Understanding that existing models did not fully address individual self-care and sustained health outcomes, they proposed a model based on the following tenets:  1) The power for lasting change lies within the individual (each person is in charge of his or her own change; 2) intrinsic motivation is the driver for meaningful and lasting change;  3) context plays a significant role in one’s ability to make change; 4) addressing health holistically is key; 5) innovative and leading-edges practices can be implanting in the real world (practical innovation); and 6) measuring long-term results matters.

In order to capture these tenets in one conceptual model, Char and Carrie proposed a model they called Sanity Space™ . Sanity Space was articulated as a framework that provides people the space to create their own self-journey. Stay tuned to this pair of innovators for more to come; there just might be more positive deviance in the future of healthcare.

Posted at 09:34 AM

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