Lifestyle medicine as a credentialed clinical specialty

If Dr. John Kelly, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), gets his way, this new specialty will develop patient care guidelines based academic research, and make lifestyle medicine a standard part of medical school curricula.

The New York Times article says the goal is to train doctors in the art of helping patients change their habits — including how to interview patients on life choices and make detailed suggestions on how to care for their condition.

“If they don’t use lifestyle management techniques,” says Dr. Kelly, “doctors often fail in their attempts to fight dangerous, prevalent conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Two problems.
Lifestyle counseling is time-consuming and seldom compensated by Medicare or health insurers. The group plans to lobby Congress to require that patients be informed about the relative effectiveness of lifestyle changes before receiving certain medications — including blood pressure, acid reflux, and cholesterol drugs — and before undergoing procedures like back surgery.

My thought.
Adding the term “CAM” to “lifestyle changes” would be a much more valuable service.

Interestingly, although a discussion paper linked at the ACLM website mentions “diet, exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, dependence on God, and a variety of other non-drug modalities,” the God reference is not included on the website itself or in the brochure. It’s an interesting deletion, and along with the absence of any other mention of CAM, probably gives insight into their perspective.

4/17/07 15:21 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.