Lifestyle Medicine, Shared medical appointments, diabetes

Associate Professor Dr John Stevens

Meet Associate Professor Dr John Stevens, a seasoned academic with over 35 years of experience, dedicating the last 25 years to teaching and researching health at Southern Cross University.

John is not just an academic; he is a cofounder of the Lifestyle Medicine movement in Australia and is acknowledged for being a leader in the largest new global movement in health; Lifestyle Medicine.  

John’s most recent Lifestyle Medicine research in collaboration with Waminda Aboriginal women’s health and Wellbeing Corporation shows that it is possible to reverse type 2 diabetes in marginalised groups using lifestyle as medicine. In the world’s first study of its kind, this project was led by the Aboriginal community and included the use of continuous glucose monitors (CGM), a decolonised food-knowledge program called Nyully cooking and a series of Medical Yarn Ups. The results were remarkable; 18 out of the 25 Aboriginal women who completed the protocol significantly reduced their HbA1c levels, with 7 even reversing their type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Four of the women who commenced the trial requiring insulin no longer required diabetes medications at the end of the trial.

These findings underscore the importance of supporting evidence-based models of care that are culturally aligned with First Nations peoples' perspectives and traditions. By improving the health and well-being of First Nations peoples, we enhance the health of the entire community.   

Lifestyle Medicine, Shared medical appointments, diabetes

“Lifestyle Medicine is the best and most sustainable medicine we have for the prevention and management of lifestyle related illness.  Lifestyle Medicine is the most rapidly growing world-wide movement in health with over 50 Lifestyle Medicine organisations empowering communities and clinicians to improve health and wellbeing. And it had its humble beginnings here at Southern Cross University.” 

Shared Medical Appointments: A Revolution in Preventing and Managing Lifestyle Related Illness

John and his colleagues have been pioneering a process called Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs) to address lifestyle-related illnesses in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. SMAs, also known as Group Consultations or Medical Yarn Ups, offer a unique approach to healthcare delivery.   

A typical SMA may take up to 90 minutes with 8-12 patients attending with similar health concerns, managed and supported by a trained facilitator, in which the health provider consults with each patient individually. The main difference that the SMA process offers is that other patients with similar concerns are listening and, when appropriate, are able to contribute their knowledge and lived experience to a conversation that might follow the consultation.

There are over 9000 scientific articles published on the use of SMAs in practiceSMAs are a rare example of a model of care that meets healthcare’s quintuple aim of better cost-effective care and outcomes, better education, high patient, and clinician satisfactionThere is also a recent study showing its use in Naturopathic consultations. And as indicated above it has been shown to be a model of care that is culturally safe and responsive as well as empowering for Aboriginal people. 

Donate to the Centre to help us continue to support John and his team's work in revolutionising healthcare delivery through their Lifestyle Medicine research, where collaboration and empowerment lead to better health outcomes for all. 

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