Why Chronic Disease?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes—are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. and are “the public health challenges of the21st century., 
- Nearly, 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases.
- Approximately 133 million people—almost half of all Americans—suffer from a chronic condition.
- About one-fourth of people with chronic conditions have one or more daily activity limitations.
- Arthritis is the most common cause of disability, with nearly 19 million Americans reporting activity limitations.
The health care system in the United States has reached a critical “unsustainable” crisis and the growing epidemic of chronic disease is largely to blame.
- The U.S. spends a larger share of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health—nearly 18%—than does any other major industrialized country. In 2010, the United States spent nearly $2.6 trillion on health—over ten times the $256 billion spent in 1980.
- In 2008, chronic diseases constituted the top 10 costliest medical conditions for men and women age 18 years and older including heart disease, cancer, mental disorders, trauma-related disorders, osteoarthritis, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, back problems, and hyperlipidemia. 
- As a nation, 84% of our health care spending is on people with chronic conditions.
Increasingly, researchers and practitioners are calling attention to the potential role of mind-body therapies and integrative medicine practices as “a potential solution to the American health care crisis.
- A growing body of evidence supports the use of mind-body therapies as adjunct treatments to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, asthma, and chronic pain. For example, a recent scientific review highlights the “growing interest in mind-body therapies as adjuncts to mainstream cancer treatment… including studies of mind-body interventions to reduce pain, anxiety, insomnia, anticipatory, and treatment-related nauseas, hot flashes, and improved mood.” The authors also note that the evidence-base is continuing to expand and suggests that mind-body techniques—including relaxation therapies, biofeedback, meditation and hypnosis, yoga, art and music therapy, tai chi, and qigong—may serve as beneficial adjuncts to cancer treatment.
- Mind-body therapies, such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi are also being used by Veteran’s hospitals and military organizations across the country to provide relief from the traumas of war and the mental anguish that follows. Research is demonstrating that mind-body interventions can provide significant therapeutic benefit, including reducing symptoms of stress and PTSD, reducing levels of pain and use of pain medication, improving quality of sleep and overall quality of life.
Furthermore, given the significant role of diet, lifestyle and other behavioral factors in the chronic disease epidemic, there is a critical opportunity for using mind-body treatment encounters as “teachable” moments, to amplify health promotion and prevention messages. This will be increasingly important as rates of chronic disease continue to rise.
Soni, A. Top 10 Most Costly Conditions among Men and Women, 2008: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Adult Population, Age 18 and Older. Statistical Brief #331. July 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Available at: http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/st331/stat331.shtml
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2010). Chronic Care: Making the Case for Ongoing Care. Available at: www.rwjf.org/pr/product.jsp?id=50968.
Maizes V., Rakel D., Niemiec C. (2009). Integrative medicine and patient-centered care. EXPLORE; Vol 5(5): 277-289.
Smeeding S.J.W., Bradshaw D.H., Kumpfer K., Trevithick S., Stoddard G.J. (2010). Outcome evaluation of the Veterans Affairs Salt Lake City Integrative Health Clinic for chronic pain and stress-related depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. JACM; Vol 16 (8): 823–835.
Jordan P.J., Evers K.E., Burke K.Y.M., King L.A., Nigg C.R. (2011). A computerized, tailored intervention to address behaviors associated with PTSD in veterans: Rationale and design of STR2IVE. TBM; Vol. 1:595–603.
Hawk C., Ndetan H., Evans M.W. (2012). Potential role of complementary and alternative health care providers in chronic disease prevention and health promotion: An analysis of National Health Interview Survey data. Preventive Medicine; Vol. 54: 18-22.