ELMO is proud to present the “Guideline for Lifestyle Medicine Curriculum” made by the Education Working Group supervised by Dr Ioan Hanes and Dr Lilach Malatsky.
The purpose of this guideline is to provide a framework in the development of education and training in Lifestyle Medicine in the medical school and in the medical postgraduate training..
The contemplated topics are: nutrition and dietetics, exercise and fitness, stress therapy, behavior change, sleep, sexual health, sexual health, environmental health, tobacco cessation, managing risky alcohol use and communication.
The Guideline has been sent to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Dr V. Andriukaitis
The World Health Organization estimates that in 2020 two-thirds of all diseases worldwide will be caused by lifestyle choices. By 2030, it is estimated that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will account for 52 million annual deaths worldwide.
One of the priorities of The United Nations’ high-level meeting of the General Assembly on NCDs in 2011 is to reduce “the level of exposure of individuals and populations to the common modifiable risk factors for NCDs, namely tobacco use, unhealthful diet, physical inactivity, and the harmful use of alcohol, and their determinants, while at the same time strengthening the capacity of individuals and populations to make healthier choices and follow lifestyle patterns that foster good health.”
The biggest challenge in dealing with NCDs is to help patients change their health behavior. Physicians have the potential to influence their patients’ health behavior by presenting them with a set of skills in managing their lifestyle choices and by being a role model by practicing a healthy lifestyle. Both approaches have been proven to be very effective in supporting behavioral change.
The practice of lifestyle medicine incorporates many public health approaches, but it is primarily a clinical discipline. We are faced with a challenge: on one side, preventive approaches (lifestyle modifications) are generally not recommended or adopted due to multiple etiologies: lack of time, knowledge and skills by primarily medical giver, lack of economic benefits to commercial companies and the biggest challenge of mankind to make a change in oneself behavior, even an unhealthy one. On the other side, treatment services such as medications and surgery are recommended and adopted when there is an evidence-based medical indication for a treatment.
This is the reality that medical students, medical residents and medical specialists or lifestyle medicine practitioners are facing: the increase in NCDs is influenced by the lifestyle of their patients. The little time they spend with their patients in the medical office and the lack of knowledge about their lifestyle behavior is frustrating not only professionally but also personally. At societal and policy level the public health system faces increased expenses due to our inability to efficiently prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases. Lifestyle medicine could partially prevent and treat NCDs by offering a concrete set of tools such as stress management, smart nutrition or exercise training accompanied with effective tools to support and guide health behavior change. These basic skills are not sufficiently taught in medical training programs.
Section A. Introduction
The purpose of this guideline is to provide a framework in the development of education and training in lifestyle medicine in the medical school and in the medical postgraduate training.
The main purpose is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the area of prevention and treatment of lifestyle-related (chronic) diseases (non-communicable diseases) by appealing to lifestyle medicine.
The European Lifestyle Medicine Organization (ELMO) will take the responsibility for developing this guideline based on the experience of its members who are professionals in the area of primary care, academia, nutrition, internal medicine and health management.
ELMO was recently launched at European level as the new academic medical society, so as to support the new initiative of an evidence-based lifestyle intervention that promotes self-management for well-being, prevention of illnesses, and management of chronic diseases.
The guideline was developed in response to a perceived need based on three types of evidence in medicine: an increased interest among physicians to adopt a different approach in treating chronic diseases; an increase in literature in the last years related to the relationship between lifestyle and certain chronic diseases; and a growing consensus of different «classical» medical specialities on the importance of lifestyle choices in the prevention and development of certain chronic diseases.
The guideline content set forth in this document is voluntary, not mandatory; it gives aspirational teaching and learning objectives, not necessarily required standards. As such, they are intended to afford broad latitude for curriculum and continuing education program development in the new field of lifestyle medicine practice. The ultimate responsibility for matters of curriculum adaptation and pedagogy is that of the faculty in higher education institutions and programs. Even if the curriculum developed by The European Lifestyle Medicine Organization (ELMO) will be an evidence-based one, the guideline is not intended to take precedence over the judgment of faculty or of the academic authority responsible for specific education and training programs.
The premise on which the need for this guideline is based is as follows: lifestyle interventions are utilized in some form by every physician at some point, but physicians properly trained in health promotion, dietetic counseling and exercise physiology, to name just a few of lifestyle medicine tools, will be more effective in achieving an optimal treatment and management of chronic diseases.
While there are already medical specialists involved in management of NCDs such as epidemiologists, public health specialists and internal medicine (primary care) specialists, there is a strong need to adopt a new approach in treating NCDs that are lifestyle related.
Lifestyle medicine also differs, even if there are overlaps, from other aligned fields in medicine, such as preventive medicine, individualized or personalized medicine, and integrative medicine.
Section B. Implementation and maintenance of proposed guideline
Once approved, the guideline will be proposed to graduate and postgraduate departments of medical faculties and medical associations for possible use in graduate or postgraduate programs, conferences and workshops, distance learning, and other appropriate education and training events.
Section C. Content of proposed guideline
The leading principles of this guideline are: 1) evidence-based medicine; 2) scientist-practitioner; 3) evolving field; 4) non-exclusivity
The 15 overarching clinical competencies required to practice lifestyle medicine are established since a few years and generally accepted:
The guideline comprises sets of specific knowledge needed for a lifestyle medicine practitioner within a work and organizational context. The recommended competencies are related to:
environment and health, occupational diseases and prevention
Domain- specific competencies :
Domain specific competencies are organized into three broad domains of lifestyle medicine expertise that are considered important in becoming competent as a lifestyle medicine referent: individual, group/ special population needs, and organizational/ system. This model is intended for organizing and conceptualizing purposes when thinking about curriculum design issues and continuing education programs.
Interventions through different processes:
The team of contributors and editors of the guideline on behalf of European Lifestyle Medicine Organization:
Dr. Ioan Hanes, Brussels, Belgium and Dr. Lilach Malatskey, MHA, Head of The Israeli Society of Lifestyle Medicine, coordinators of the guideline
Dr. Stefania Ubaldi, President of the European Lifestyle Medicine Organization(ELMO)
Dr. Ioannis Arkadianos, Vice President of the European Lifestyle Medicine Organization (ELMO)
Prof. Adrian Kennedy, PhD. (USA), ELMO Ambassador in UAE&India, Arabian Wellness&Lifestyle Management
Dr. Valentini Konstantinidou, ELMO Ambassador in Spain
Dr. Rani Polak, Research fellow, PM&R Department, Harvard Medical School
Section D. References :