People who participated in a health education program that included both mental health and physical health information significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular and other chronic illnesses by the end of the year. ’12-month intervention – and maintained most of those improvements six months later, the researchers said.
People who participated in the integrated mental and physical health program maintained significant improvements on seven of the nine health measures six months after the program ended. These included, on average, a 21% decrease in fasting blood sugar, a 17% decrease in low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and a 12% decrease in their body mass index.
However, patients in the group who focused only on physical health information maintained their improvements on just two risk factors: BMI and systolic blood pressure.
Data collected at the end of the 12-month intervention indicated that program patients with the mental health component improved on eight of the nine health measures, while their peers in the traditional program improved on only three.
“The gains made by patients in the integrated program were greater than those of their counterparts in the other group and had greater lasting effects,” said Tara M. Powell, professor of social work at the University of Illinois to Urbana-Champaign, first author of a study on the project, published in the journal Preventive medicine reports.
The study participants were 213 Syrian refugees and 382 Jordanians who were patients at three health clinics in Irbid, Jordan, a border community that has seen a large influx of people fleeing the civil war in Syria. Powell conducted the research in partnership with the nonprofit health-focused relief and development organization Americares and the Royal Health Awareness Society in Jordan.
Powell’s group explored the effectiveness of a health education intervention called the Healthy Community Clinic, delivered in clinics across Jordan to improve patient management of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. , and reduce their risk of complications. Trained health educators or nurses led 20 interactive educational sessions that patients attended twice a month for a year.
Patient outcomes in the traditional HCC program were compared to those of peers who received routine health care only and to a group that participated in an expanded HCC program that incorporated four additional sessions focused on mental health. .
The mental health sessions included discussions on topics such as bereavement and traumatic physical and emotional stress reactions. Participants also learned tangible coping skills to reduce emotional distress, such as deep breathing exercises and walking.
“This study is among the first to illustrate how an integrated educational intervention in physical and mental health can improve health outcomes and ultimately help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in refugees and low-income populations,” said the co – Principal investigator, Dr Shang-Ju Li, Principal Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of Americares. “We are excited to share this groundbreaking research and look forward to making even more progress as we continue to look for ways to improve the health outcomes of those affected by poverty or disaster.”
The other co-authors of the study were Michelle Thompson, associate director of emergency response, Americares; Yuan Hsiao, graduate student in sociology at the University of Washington; Aseel Farraj, program manager of the Royal Health Awareness Society; Mariam Abdoh, Senior Population and Health Advisor / Project Management Specialist, USAID; and Dr Rami Farraj, from King Hussein Medical Center.
Based on the results of this research, the Royal Health Awareness Society has since deployed the HCC with the mental health component to public health centers in Jordan, Powell said.
In an earlier study with the same participants that looked at the impact of social support on mental and physical health, Powell and his colleagues found that more than half of the participants had experienced at least one traumatic event. Among Syrians, the most commonly reported traumatic experience was living in a war zone (73%), while among Jordanians it was witness to a violent death (18%).
This study, published in PLOS ONE, was co-authored by Li, Hsiao and U. of I., graduate student Oe Jin Shin.
“Because mental health issues such as depression and anxiety often coincide with chronic physical problems and poverty, patient education programs that integrate mental and physical health information are essential for countries like Jordan, ”said Powell. “Making these integrated programs widely available can reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases on marginalized populations and improve their access to care.”
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Tara M. Powell et al, An Integrated Physical and Mental Health Awareness Education Intervention to Reduce Noncommunicable Diseases Among Syrian Refugees and Jordanians in Host Communities: A Natural Experimentation Study, Preventive medicine reports (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.pmedr.2021.101310
Quote: Patient education program with mental health component reduces risk of cardiovascular disease (2021, February 11) retrieved February 12, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-02-patient-mental-health -component-cardiovascular.html
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