Abstract ID: 3612

Primary Topic: Curriculum design and development
Secondary Topic: Integrative medicine delivery models
Tertiary Topic: Integrative Health and the Underserved

Power of a community based organizations and academic health programs working together to deliver integrative medicine: a case study
Rupa Mahadevan, MD; Melinda Ring, MD, FACP; Elaine Cheung, PhD, , Chicago, IL, United States; Neile Edens, PhD, Common Threads, Chicago, IL, United States; Stephanie Folkens, BA, , Chicago, IL, United States

Category: Education

Late Breaker: No


Background: Academic health programs and community-based organizations play complementary roles in delivering health care in underserved neighborhoods.  Physicians/clinicians are authorities on treating illness and have the benefit of focused time with individual patients, while community-based organizations can deliver accessible, intensive wellness programs in a supportive group setting.   Collaboration between academic health programs and community-based organizations is beneficial to both: physicians shape and enhance program material and are a resource for faculty/student volunteers, while community-based organizations can amplify and reinforce wellness messages and offer unique learning environments for trainees.   Program Description: One model of this type of collaboration is the Cooking Up Health: Docs and Kids in the Kitchen program, developed and implemented jointly by the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, and Common Threads, a nonprofit organization that provides cooking and nutrition education to children and adults in underserved neighborhoods.  The Cooking Up Health program provides culinary medicine education to first year medical students, who then teach Common Threads classes to elementary school students.   In this model, medical students practice health coaching skills and explore cultural and socioeconomic factors in behavior change, while elementary students benefit from receiving nutrition instruction from medical student role models.  Evaluation of the pilot implementation of the program found benefits to medical students (Cheung et al. 2017); the effect of the program on elementary students is under investigation.  Key factors that supported success of this model were Common Threads established infrastructure for delivering programs in public schools and the commitment and support of Osher Center leadership.   Conclusion: Residents in underserved neighborhoods and academic programs both benefit from collaborative programs linking integrative medicine and community based organizations. (Supported by the Alliance for Research in the Chicagoland Communities.)


Building community based partnerships is integral for integrative medicine to flourish; it is one way to create sustainable change in the local community and partner with already established organizations to promote health and wellness.  Partnering with community organizations can advance the education sector of integrative medicine and lifestyle medicine in meaningful ways for students from elementary school age to graduate level education. With the help of community based organizations, our advocacy effort to build awareness for nutrition, healthy eating, and fighting childhood obesity has impacted Chicago Public School education as well as medical school students. Community partnerships can enhance community engagement in projects and bring attention to health topics in underserved areas. 


By the end of this session, participants will be able to see how community partnerships can enhance education, and how integrative medicine clinicians and trainees can impact on community health. Participants will:

  • Learn how engagement with the community can positively impact healthcare education
  • Know how community partnerships can build greater awareness to fight current health epidemics 
  • Understand how health care delivery can be enhanced through community partnerships 
  • Demonstrate how the medical establishment and community sector can create lasting change through advocacy efforts
  • Develop increased interest in finding a local community organization with whom to partner