• Community Engaged Lifestyle Medicine

    Family medicine is the only specialty that provides primary care to patients across the lifespan, making family physicians ideally suited to talk with people of all ages about the benefits that come from healthy lifestyle choices.

    There are plenty of ways that you can help patients start and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Teams of family physicians in Connecticut, Idaho and Illinois implemented research projects* to address several lifestyle medicine topics, including: inexpensive ways for people to improve their diet and enjoy the benefits of healthy eating; efforts to reduce suicide and self-harm in young people; and effective forms of diabetes care.

    The resources available here are designed to assist you in discussing healthy lifestyle options with your patients and integrating lifestyle medicine into your practice. 

    Diets Don't Work: Real Food for Better Health

    Good nutrition is a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle. Few things can have a bigger impact on a person’s life than changing to a diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables and low in highly processed or sugar-laden foods. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same access to healthy food. And while family physicians understand how lifestyle changes can improve health and prevent disease, finding the best way to educate patients can be challenging.

    To overcome these barriers, Connecticut Executive Vice President, Mary Yokose and AFP member Kathleen Mueller, MD, developed a nutrition curriculum that focuses on the big differences that can come from small changes in nutritional habits. Using recipes from the cookbook Good and Cheap, the curriculum shows people how they can eat healthy on as little as $4/day (before inflation). The program combines group visits with additional physician and patient educational materials, and runs for a minimum of three sessions over six weeks (and can be expanded to six sessions over 12 weeks). Participants will also have their measurements taken at the beginning and end of the program, and will complete surveys to gauge how much they have learned over time.

    Tools & Resources

    Nutrition Guide

    Interrupting Teen Suicide at the Gates of Primary Care

    Idaho has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the country. While social isolation can lead to suicidal behaviors, many people who attempt suicide see a family physician or other primary care clinician in the month prior to the event.  As such, family physicians can play a crucial role in teen suicide prevention.

    Idaho AFP executive director Liz Woodruff and program specialist Brittany Bussey developed a cohort of six member physicians and three pilot physicians who implemented their research project. Working with partner organizations throughout the state, the chapter created physician- and patient-facing packets detailing suicide risks and resources available in Idaho, with a focus on caring Latinx, Native American and LGTBQ+ youth. Thanks to these new resources, FPs across Idaho are better equipped to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health, to integrate other lifestyle medicine concepts into their practices, and to have informed discussions with patients on related topics such as gun safety and suicide prevention.

    Tools & Resources

    Physician Resource Packet

    Patient Resource Packet

    Diabetes Undone: Lifestyle Medicine and the Management of Diabetes

    About 38 million people in the United States have diabetes, including almost 9 million people who have the condition but haven’t been diagnosed with it. Left untreated, diabetes can cause a variety of complications, including a shortened lifespan. One tool that family physicians and patients alike can use to overcome diabetes is a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and a better understanding of diabetes can all make significant differences.

    Using the Diabetes Undone curriculum as a guide, Illinois AFP member Christina Wells, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., Dip. ABLM, subject matter expert Meagan Grega, M.D., FACLM, Dip. ABFM, Dip. ABLM, and vice president of education & meetings Kate Valentine recorded a series of three lifestyle medicine educational sessions. While one session focused on lifestyle medicine approaches for diabetes management and prevention, chapter members also worked in the community, interacting directly with patients and giving them resources on diabetes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The other sessions explore the benefits of lifestyle medicine, review specific interventions that can be used with patients, and provide tips for clinicians on how to integrate lifestyle medicine into practice. CME credit is available for those who watch the sessions, and look for additional work from the IAFP in the near future.

    Tools & Resources

    Health Assessment

    Lifestyle Medicine Educational Sessions

    * These projects developed through support from the Ardmore Institute of Health.