Another tip of the hat to science and research into the practice(s) of meditation.
Healthcare, healthcare reform, the costs of healthcare…it’s in the news and is a priority in the US political arena. But, is anyone discussing how meditation may help cut the costs of healthcare?? The answer seems to be “yes,” and with increasing frequency too.
We already know that meditation provides benefit to those who meditate. Ongoing research into contemplative and meditative practices has provided an increasing body of knowledge to prove that meditation can benefit one’s wellness, decrease stress-mediated illnesses, and even help long-term practitioners to “rewire” their brains. Please check the blog heading of science on this site for articles on research into meditation.
Amidst all of this data, there has been some discussion aimed at how a preventative model of medicine that utilizes mind-body techniques might help to reduce healthcare costs. It’s actually surprising that more data and discussion hasn’t been directed towards this subject.
The following article, recently published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, really caught my attention. Have a look at the following abstract:
Robert E. Herron, PhD (2011)
Purpose. To determine whether the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique can affect the physician costs of consistently high-cost people.
Design. Quasi-experimental, longitudinal, cost-minimization evaluation. This 14-year, preintervention-postintervention study retrospectively assessed government payments to physicians for treating the TM and no-treatment (NT) groups.
Setting. Province of Quebec, Canada.
Participants. The highest-spending 10% of 1418 Quebec health insurance enrollees who practiced the TM technique were compared with the highest 10% of 1418 subjects who were randomly selected from enrollees of the same age, sex, and region. TM participants had chosen to begin the technique prior to choosing to enter the study.
Measures. Annual payments to private physicians in all treatment settings. The Quebec government health insurance agency provided the total physician payments for each of the 2836 subjects from 1981 to 1994. Other medical expense data for individuals were unavailable. Data were adjusted for medical cost inflation.
Analysis. For each subject, least-squares regression slopes were calculated to estimate preintervention and postintervention annual rates of change in payments. The groups’ means, slopes, and medians were compared using both parametric and nonparametric tests.
Results. Before starting meditation, the yearly rate of increase in payments to physicians between groups was not significantly different. After commencing meditation, the TM group’s mean payments declined $44.93 annually (p = .004), whereas the NT comparison group’s payments exhibited nonsignificant changes. After 1 year, the TM group decreased 11%, and after 5 years their cumulative reduction was 28% (p = .001).
Conclusions. The results suggest the intervention may be an effective method for reducing physician costs. Randomized studies are recommended.
That the study concludes by suggesting that “the intervention may be an effective method for reducing physician costs” says a lot. But, when we look at a study like the one that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and that was highlighted on this site, Meditation is More Powerful than Morphine!, it seems obvious that meditation can and may already be reducing the costs of healthcare.
For more information on how to meditate and science please see the Related Posts below. Also, don’t forget to download the free ebook, Can Meditation Change the Way that You View Your World?, for help with getting started in you meditation practice. Also, you can now download the new ebook, How to Work with the Four Distractions to Meditationto learn how to deal with some of the obstacles to meditation.
NEW – this site has a new page, Media, where you can find articles, MP3 tracks for downloading, and videos on the subject of meditation.
As always, please feel free to share your comments. Let me and others know what situations you find yourself in when you’re able to be compassionate with yourself when finding yourself distracted during a compassionate moment. And, as always, please feel free to contact me if you’d like to see additional content or other discussions on this site.