I have previously expressed my appreciation of the JAMA 1993 paper "Actual Causes of Death in the US", written by Mike McGinnis and Bill Foege. The paper is central in the course that I that I am now giving at the Santa Barbara City College called "the Science of Longevity." My main PowerPoint represents data from Steve Schroeder's Shattuck paper printed in the New England Journal that makes the same point. In it Steve concludes that 15% of the causes of death are due to genes, 19% from social circumstance, 10% from healthcare, 5% from environmental exposure, but 55% from personal behavior. This is precisely the point made by Mike and Bill's earlier paper, health behavior is the dominant causal agency in human health. Such a dogmatic claim is made with scant note by Modern Medicine.
What is Medicine's response? Meager. Medicine is so preoccupied with cure that it totally neglects the preventive aspects inherent in behavioral medicine. The reason for this of course streams from the observation that "nobody notices when things go right". Consequently, prevention doesn't pay, at least with the system that we now have in place.
With this as background I was delighted to learn of Eddy Phillips' course at Harvard embedded in his lifestyle medicine center. I have participated as a speaker in his protocol, and more importantly I sent two of our Stanford medical students to learn of it. They were so impressed that they brought it back to Stanford, and initiated our own lifestyle medicine course within the medical school curriculum. It is now in its fifth year and thriving. I am extremely proud of this because it comes from the grass roots, the students run the course which consists of 10 weeks of lectures emphasizing the core issues of behavior, namely nutrition, physical exercise, and social connectedness. These central aspects of medicine are absent from the standard curriculum.
Our course has been so successful that it merited a publication in the American Journal of Health Promotion. The title of our article is "Moving toward a better balance: Stanford School of Medicine's lifestyle medicine course is spearheading the promotion of health and wellness medicine."
This publication is only a further extension of the inevitable adoption of behavioral medicine within the medical school curriculum. Eddie Phillips is passionate about spreading this imperative adoption. Modern medicine is derelict in its failure to adopt it in its pursuit of financial reward. Prevention must be made to pay. The medical schools must incorporate this in their priority list. I am proud of what we are contributing. I will be there tomorrow at noon to participate.