Veterans who are engaged in VA’s Whole Health system report a positive impact on their experiences of care, engagement in care, well-being, and a greater reduction in opioid use than their fellow Veterans who are not engaged in Whole Health services.

This is according to a study published this month in Health Services Research report, “From patient outcomes to system change: Evaluating the impact of VHA’s implementation of the Whole Health System of Care, conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

The report most significantly showed that opioid use among Veterans engaged in Whole Health decreased between 23% and 38%, depending on the level of the program’s use, compared to a decrease of 11% by those who participated in conventional health care alone.

Patient reported outcomes used in the study were collected at baseline, 6-month and 12- month intervals.

Largest improvements by Veterans who discussed goals with providers

Veterans involved with the system also reported greater improvements in the experience and engagement of their care and overall well-being. The largest improvements were observed in Veterans who reported having discussions of their personal health goals with their providers.

Veterans who are more involved with Whole Health services discuss and get help with their personal health goals more often than those Veterans who only received conventional care.

Read more here about a Veteran who has applied the system to his life, resulting in a reduction in pain medications and a return to enjoying his life.

Whole Health is defined as an “approach to health care that empowers and equips people to take charge of their health and well-being and live their life to the fullest.”

The goal of VA’s Whole Health system is to transform the organization and culture of care to start with understanding the Veteran’s life mission, aspiration and purpose (what matters most to the Veteran), and provide care to improve Veterans’ overall health and well-being.

System comprised of three components

  • Whole Health Pathway – in which Veterans are introduced, often by peers, to Whole Health concepts, allowing them to explore their mission, aspiration and purpose, and develop a personal health plan.
  • Whole Health Clinical Care – in which providers align conventional and complementary integrative health (CIH) care with Veterans’ personal health plan, goals and mission, aspiration and purpose
  • Well-being programs – in which Veterans participate in CIH services, health coaching, and self-care and skill-building groups to equip Veterans to manage their health.

Veterans can learn more about VA Whole Health and how to get started on their own personal Whole Health journey here.

The study was conducted by Dr. Barbara Bokhour and her team from the Evaluating Patient Centered Care Quality Enhancement Research Initiative group in Boston-Bedford, MA, in collaboration with VA’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation.

By Andrew Ruben is a communications specialist for VHA

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Published on Mar. 11, 2022

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  1. Steven coles March 12, 2022 at 2:27 pm

    I’m enrolled…just started….was going!to blow it off as hokey dokey mishmash…but then…I had an overwhelming positive response…

  2. Arthur Foster March 12, 2022 at 11:28 am

    Unfortunately, access to the VA Caregiver Program remains a special VA club, speaking as a 100% P and T vet. The vetting staff continually presented false information about me for over a year. I didn’t meet national policy levels, so they say, but would never disclose what those were nor how my conditions failed to qualify.

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