A recent Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) study found that “relaxation response” techniques, which includes meditation, yoga and prayer, can reduce the need for overall health care services by 43%.
The study follows a long trail of research that showed relaxation response techniques decreased stress and anxiety and also had substantial benefits.
These benefits include some bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption.
Relaxation Response Study
Using this premise as a guide, the MGH’s Institute for Technology Assessment and Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) for Mind Body Medicine monitored individuals who were in a relaxation response program.
The specifics of the study boiled down to more than 4,400 participants of the Relaxation Response Resiliency Program (3RP) from the years 2006 to 2014.
The researchers then compared this information to data from more than 13,000 demographically similar patients over a two-year period.
They then monitored them to see how often they used health care services over the course of a year.
The results showed there was a noticeable drop in the doctor of hospital visits during the “relaxation response” year versus previous years.
In fact, The results showed patients in the 3RP program used health care services 43% less than their traditional patient counterparts.
The study based results on “health care encounters,” noted below.
- Lab work
- Imaging studies
Health Care Areas
The health care areas that were the most affected included:
The researchers proposed that the cost of instituting and allowing patients to attend programs similar to 3RP would be more than covered after just a 4-6 month period.
Relaxation Response Effect
While this data may seem revolutionary, researchers have been covering it in one form or another for more than 40 years.
Professor Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School started describing the Relaxation Response affect more than 40 years.
He was a co-author of this current study that tied relaxation to dramatic health care cost savings.
One of the big differences between the initial studies four decades ago and today’s research, however, is that hospitals, medical centers and companies with some full-time employees are taking notice.
Applying the Relaxation Response
More and more hospitals are applying relaxation response and meditation programs as a treatment for patients which chronic illnesses and other maladies.
And doctors and psychiatrists alike are prescribing meditation as a potential treatment for a wide range of issues.
From anxiety and depression to migraines, asthma or heart disease, the effects of meditation address a huge range of our body’s everyday operations, which naturally, makes our body run more efficiency when all the parts are working together.
As studies like this one take into account not just overall health benefits but cost come to fruition, expect to see relaxation response take a larger role on an administrative level.
Government programs, health insurance companies and hospital CEOs are paying attention to studies like these very carefully.
They are taking notice, especially considering that the numbers consistently show that health care costs can go down when the medical field embraces meditation.
And perhaps best of all, as meditation programs are becoming widespread, the people who reap the biggest benefits aren’t the accountants or the administrators.
It's the patients whose lives are made better by participating and improving their overall health.
Contact me and let’s chat about incorporating mindful meditation into your world!
Having a professional teacher on your side will go a long way in getting you started. Once you’re on the path, you’ll be amazed at how far meditation will take you.
I offer both classes in my office and an online program you can complete at your convenience.