The Specialist Health Centre, an organisation working alongside the Essex primary and secondary care trusts, has recently responded to the demand for accessible and achievable lifestyle intervention programmes.
The scheme delivered a 4 week programme to patients referred from their GP surgery, currently living with a range of chronic conditions such as cancer, Type 2 diabetes (T2DM), obesity, hypertension, musculoskeletal issues, and fibromyalgia.
The results from the programme showed significant improvements compared to the UK national average, and raised the question as to whether this is due to key differentiators.
The Department of Health states that physical activity can play an important role in preventing and managing health conditions such as coronary heart disease, T2DM, stroke, mental health problems, musculoskeletal conditions, and some cancers. It also has a positive effect on wellbeing and mood, providing a sense of achievement or relaxation, and release from daily stress.
This statement is supported by diabetes prevention studies, which show that lifestyle intervention, focussing on increases in physical activity, improvements in diet, and reductions in weight, reduces the risk of progression to T2DM by 30-60% and can have lasting benefits after the active intervention ceases. Additional observational research has consistently shown that 80-90% of all cases of T2DM result from an unhealthy lifestyle.
Despite the health benefits of physical activity, most adults in the UK do not take the recommended amount of exercise. Exercise-referral schemes have been introduced to encourage exercise participation in sedentary adults, particularly those with chronic ill-health. However, multiple studies have shown that these programmes are currently ineffective due to their lack of compliancy and inability to maintain long term change. (kings fund, William et al.)
Observing these previous and current interventions, The Specialist Health Centre identified a number of key areas that they deemed relevant to increasing compliance:
- A multi-disciplinary team with an increased level of patient interaction
- A non-intimidating environment that meets the physical needs of the patients without creating the medical atmosphere of a hospital, or an intimidating environment such as a gym
The programme consisted of a 1-2-1 session with a physiotherapist, specialist group training 2 times a week, a 1-2-1 session with a degree-level nutritionist (supported by group nutritional coaching sessions every other week), a group cognitive behavioural therapy session, and a session with a life coach.
Using these methods, patients on the programme achieved an average 33% increase in perceived wellbeing, 2.7kg weight loss, 23% increase in cardio abilities, and 36.7% increase in full body strength.
Most importantly, patients achieved a 90% completion rate. A result 4.5x better than the national average of 20%.
Following the physical and psychological improvements, many patients became emotionally invested in the organisation, which is believed to have contributed to the increased compliance.
The programme was delivered to patients free of charge, and upon completion of the 4 week intervention, patients were given two options. The patient could either receive ongoing digital support for free or pay a competitively priced membership fee to the centre to continue on the programme. Patients with life-threatening conditions such as cancer were informed that if they faced financial challenges, the centre would cover the cost of the programme.
88% of the patients opted to pay an additional fee. This included patients on low incomes and benefits, demonstrating that there was a high level of perceived value in the programme.
The Specialist Health Centre believes that this exercise has identified an improved method of providing lifestyle interventions that is cost effective and delivers a bigger impact to the patient.
For more information contact The Specialist Health Centre on 01245 407420 or visit www.specialisthealthcentre.co.uk