Stakeholder engagement to study and optimize the translation of knowledge by the integration of health coaching and mindfulness into medical care on the Sunshine Coast

Research co-leads:

  • Robert Woollard
    University of British Columbia 

Research user co-lead:

  • Rahul Gupta
    Vancouver Coastal Health

Team members:

  • Jane Bishop
    Sunshine Coast Division of Family Medicine
  • Joerg Jaschinksi
    Child Youth Mental Health and Substance Use
  • Ray Markham
    Rural Coordination Centre of BC
  • Marilyn Pederson
    Emergency Management BC
  • Andrea Stinton 
    Gibsons Medical Clinic

Chronic illness including multisystem disease, chronic pain, substance use disorders, and mental health challenges are by far the most expensive and frustrating aspects of the health care system. With a deeper understanding of the complexity of health care systems, there is an emerging shift from mechanistic approaches often ineffective to ones that embrace uncertainty, recognize wholeness, and honour individual uniqueness. Understanding relationships, both human and systemic, has become key, to see how different parts are connected to the whole. There are multiple relationships at play: those patients have with their own bodies and biographies, those between patients and their primary healthcare providers, and those between different providers that serve any patient.

Over the last two decades, health coaching and mindfulness arose to offer insights into how best to leverage these relationships. Together they provide guiding principles and practices that orient to complexity and wholeness. This shift in orientation allows access to insights and innate resources that lead to emergent behaviours and health promotion wherein the patient and the team of providers become more than their parts.

On the Sunshine Coast, since 2014, health coaching and mindfulness-based interventions have been integrated into the fabric of medical care. The proposed work at the patient and community level is to better understand how such integration might best be achieved.

This team will first engage stakeholders in dialogue to understand needs, experiences and context specific opportunities. Key stakeholders include patients who experienced these interventions, physicians who referred their patients to these programs, physicians who possess skills and key members of the Sunshine Coast Division of Family Practice. Key members from the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, the Faculty of Medicine and UBC’s Continuing Professional Development will also be invited for input that might be of value for other communities and physician training.

Since their applications are universal, health coaching and mindfulness represent interventions that may support both patients and providers. Wellness of providers themselves is crucial to optimizing patient care so provincial advocates for physician health are invited.

This group will design a research plan to prioritize study elements and support future grant applications. The long-term hope is to further translate knowledge into practice on the Sunshine Coast as a pilot, and provide a template that other rural and remote communities might adopt/adapt to contribute to healing within their own communities.