Employers lose more than $36 billion each year due to worker absenteeism resulting from just five chronic conditions — high blood pressure, diabetes, physical inactivity, smoking, and obesity — reports the CDC. And according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), practices such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, and tai chi can help improve outcomes for people with chronic conditions. We will all benefit from familiarizing ourselves with integrative care programs and services to better understand how these practices can contribute to a healthy and productive workforce.

Integrative Care – where are we now?

In 2021, the NCCIH released its first longitudinal analysis of the use of integrative care practices. The organization found that, from 1996 to 2013, the usage of massage therapy grew from 8.51% to 18.18%; meditation, from 13.33% to 23.67%; chiropractic, from 12% to 17.3%; and herbal products, from 5.03% to 7.14%. The organization also reports that in 2012, more than 30% of adults and 12% of children in the United States utilized integrative care practices. Globally, the market is expected to grow from $100.04 billion in 2021, to $315.5 billion in 2027, according to IMARC market research group.

From Alternative to Integrative

Despite the growing popularity of such services, the industry as a whole remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. From “complementary” to “alternative” to “integrative,” the nomenclature used to describe these services and practices can be confusing. One thing they all have in common, according to the NCCIH, is that they are typically not grounded in conventional, Western methods of diagnosing and treating disease. To help address the confusion, the NCCIH uses the following definitions:

  • Alternative: treatments used in lieu of Western medical recommendations
  • Complementary: treatments used in addition to traditional Western medical practices
  • Integrative: treatments that bring complementary and Western medical approaches together in a coordinated way

Moreover, practices and services can be categorized as:

  • Nutritional: e.g., diet, supplements, herbal treatments
  • Psychological: e.g., mindfulness and meditation
  • Physical: e.g., massage and chiropractic
  • Combination: e.g., yoga, tai chi, health coaching

In integrative care, the focus is on treating the whole person rather than only the diagnosis. For example, a patient may take medication and seek psychotherapy for anxiety while working with a meditation and mindfulness coach to help manage emotional regulation, improve sleep, and eating patterns. 

At SimplaFYI, we are committed to expanding awareness and access to vetted integrative care practitioners at preferred pricing and providing programs to support wellbeing and reduce healthcare costs. By offering SimplaFYI to your employees, you’ll be advancing their wellbeing and contributing to a more productive workforce. www.simplafyi.com/employers 

Carol Swanson writes blogs in the health & wellbeing and finance sectors. She can be reached at: [email protected]