Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About IOCH

Contextual health is an approach that understands and addresses health conditions by examining the comprehensive biological, psychological, and social history and context of an individual. This method extends beyond simply addressing physical symptoms to consider how these interrelated factors—alongside the individual’s personal experiences and environmental conditions—shape health outcomes. It recognizes that health is influenced not only by genetic and physical conditions but also by psychological states, social environments, and past experiences. At the Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH), we are dedicated to overcoming the limitations of traditional healthcare models by integrating these multifaceted insights. Our goal is to provide healthcare facilities with the tools and insights needed to deliver more effective care that responds to the diverse needs of the communities they serve.

  1. Innovative Measurement Strategies: IOCH is among fewer than 20 research groups globally exploring true individualized measurement using non-ergodic strategies. This approach is critical for biopsychosocial process-based practice, making us uniquely positioned as a research and technology institute that integrates our own clinical research practice, where all clinicians are trained in genuinely personalized measurement and care.
  2. Collaborative Partnerships: Our partnership with Prosocial World, drawing on Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrum’s 8 Core Design Principles (CDPs) for collaboration, sets us apart in leveraging collective action and community resources for enhanced care delivery and shared decision making with patients.
  3. Human Rehabilitation Framework (HRF): The development of HRF, the world’s first biopsychosocial process-based approach to rehabilitation, accessible across disciplines for transdisciplinary care, marks a paradigm shift. By incorporating Complex Adaptive Systems Theory and Multilevel Selection Evolutionary Theory, it enables individualized functional analysis and advances Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) towards Precision Medicine and the Value-Based Care Model.
  4. Process-Based Diagnostic and Intervention Methods: Our move from traditional diagnostic models to a process-based approach addresses the non-ergodic nature of human problems, offering adaptive strategies to manage complexity and leveraging technological advancements, including psycho-technological tools, for enhanced care efficiency.
  5. Advancing Research and Practice: IOCH is future-proofing rehabilitation by shifting focus from group-level (nomothetic) analysis to individual-level (idiographic) analysis, ready to adopt idionomic research methods and advanced statistical methodologies. This advances both Biomedicine and Psychological research fields, providing a comprehensive and integrative approach to rehabilitation.

The Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH) operates on a robust foundation supported by four critical pillars: Research, Technology, Clinical Services and Outreach, and Education. Each of these pillars is vital in our mission to revolutionize the understanding and treatment of chronic pain and movement issues. Here’s how each pillar supports and enhances our overarching goals:

  1. Research: At the core of IOCH, our research initiatives drive our understanding of the multifaceted aspects of chronic pain and movement problems. Our innovative projects focus on personalized care, advanced measurement strategies, and clinical reasoning, aiming to effect real societal change through groundbreaking discoveries.

  2. Technology: IOCH leverages technology to revolutionize chronic pain management and support systems. By developing tools like the Biopsychosocial Process Based Case Management Software (PB-CMS) and the Chronic Pain Empowerment Network (CPEN), we apply our research findings in practical, impactful ways, enhancing the effectiveness of our interventions.

  3. Clinical Services and Outreach: This pillar extends the foundational work of DMR Move, integrating it into IOCH’s broader mission. Our clinical services are not just about providing care but also about outreach and engagement with the community. By conducting workshops, public health campaigns, and forming partnerships with other healthcare providers, we aim to improve care standards and make our innovative approaches accessible to a wider audience.

  4. Education: The education pillar ensures that the knowledge and strategies developed through our research and technology are disseminated widely. IOCH offers extensive educational programs targeted at healthcare providers, patients, and the community at large. These programs are designed to share effective pain management strategies, promote psychological flexibility, and support community well-being, thus ensuring that our innovative approaches reach and benefit all stakeholders.

Together, these pillars not only reinforce IOCH’s vision but also create a dynamic ecosystem that advances the Human Rehabilitation Framework (HRF). This synergy ensures our approaches are scientifically valid, practically applicable, and highly effective in addressing the complexities of health, thus making a profound impact on the lives of those we serve. This integrated approach is crucial for transcending the limitations of traditional healthcare models and delivering care that truly resonates with individual needs.

The Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH) has developed the Human Rehabilitation Framework (HRF), an innovative model that integrates a biopsychosocial process-based approach to rehabilitation. The HRF is designed to comprehensively address the complex and multifaceted nature of chronic pain and movement issues by considering not only the biological aspects of health but also the psychological and social dimensions.

How the HRF Applies Contextual Health:

  1. Comprehensive Integration of Factors: The HRF applies the principles of contextual health by focusing on the entire context of an individual’s life. This includes their biological conditions, psychological state, and social environment. By integrating these factors, the HRF goes beyond traditional treatment models that often focus solely on physical symptoms.

  2. Personalized Care: At the heart of the HRF is the commitment to personalized, individualized care. This framework recognizes that each person’s health experience is unique and shaped by a complex interplay of factors. Treatments and interventions are therefore tailored to meet the specific needs and circumstances of each individual, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

  3. Process-Based Approach: Unlike conventional models that may rely heavily on static diagnoses and standard protocols, the HRF uses a process-based approach. This means it emphasizes understanding and modifying the processes that contribute to health and disease. For example, it looks at how personal beliefs, behaviors, and social interactions influence health outcomes and integrates methods to address these dynamically.

  4. Focus on Functionality and Outcomes: The HRF prioritizes functional outcomes and the real-life impact of treatments. It assesses how interventions improve an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and enhance quality of life, rather than just alleviating symptoms. This outcome-focused approach is aligned with the principles of contextual health, which values practical effectiveness in real-world settings.

  5. Educational and Empowering: The framework also emphasizes education and empowerment of patients. By educating individuals about the factors that affect their health and involving them actively in their care process, the HRF promotes greater self-management and psychological flexibility. This empowerment is a key aspect of contextual health, as it helps individuals navigate their health journeys with more confidence and understanding.

The HRF embodies the essence of contextual health by providing an integrated, dynamic approach to rehabilitation. It ensures that healthcare is responsive to the complexities of human health and effective in achieving meaningful, personalized outcomes. To gain a deeper understanding, we invite you to explore our detailed whitepaper, which delves into the science behind the HRF and illustrates its impact on healthcare delivery.

The Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH) has evolved through the integration and expansion of several foundational initiatives, each contributing uniquely to the robust framework that IOCH represents today. Initially, two distinct but aligned paths—Dynamic Principles and DMR Move and Recover—laid the groundwork for what would eventually become IOCH.

Dynamic Principles initiated the educational branch, focusing on disseminating knowledge about the biopsychosocial process-based approaches to healthcare, particularly in the realms of pain management and rehabilitation. This education arm emphasized the necessity of integrating contemporary scientific insights into practical healthcare education, aiming to elevate the standard of care provided by health professionals.

Simultaneously, DMR Move and Recover established a community clinic that became renowned for its innovative approach to chronic pain and movement rehabilitation. This clinic was pivotal in demonstrating the practical applications of theories taught by Dynamic Principles, providing tangible evidence of the effectiveness of a process-based approach in clinical settings.

The fusion of these two entities under the house of the Institute of Contextual Health marked a significant milestone in the journey towards a more integrated and scientifically-informed approach to health care. By combining the strengths of Dynamic Principles’ educational frameworks with the clinical successes of DMR Move and Recover, IOCH has created a powerful synergy. This union has not only strengthened the individual components but has also created a comprehensive platform that addresses education, clinical application, and community outreach comprehensively.

Today, IOCH continues to build on this strong foundation, driving forward the mission to transform healthcare by applying a deep understanding of the biopsychosocial aspects of health through both educational and clinical pathways. This history of collaboration and integration is what makes IOCH a unique and influential force in the realm of contextual health.

The Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH) has made a significant impact on healthcare by advancing personalized care and enhancing community health standards through our innovative approaches. For more details on our specific achievements and ongoing efforts, please visit our Impact page to learn more!

The Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH) serves both patients and professionals. For patients, IOCH offers comprehensive care that addresses chronic pain and movement issues through innovative and personalized treatment plans.

For professionals, the institute provides educational programs and research opportunities designed to advance knowledge and practice in the field of health care, particularly in the areas of chronic pain management and rehabilitation.

This dual focus allows IOCH to impact individual health outcomes directly while influencing broader healthcare practices and standards.

There are several ways you can support the Institute of Contextual Health and contribute to our mission of transforming healthcare through contextual health innovations. Here are a few options:

  1. Donations: Your financial contributions help us continue our groundbreaking research, develop new technologies, and expand our educational and clinical services. You can make a donation through our website or contact us directly to discuss other giving opportunities.

  2. Volunteer: We welcome volunteers to help with various aspects of our operations, from assisting in our community clinic to supporting our research and educational events. Volunteering is a rewarding way to make a difference and gain insight into our work.

  3. Participate in Research: Join our research studies as a participant to help us advance scientific knowledge and improve clinical practices in the field of contextual health.

  4. Educational Programs: Enroll in our educational programs to learn more about the Human Rehabilitation Framework (HRF) and other innovations at IOCH. These programs are designed for both healthcare professionals and the general public.

  5. Spread the Word: Help raise awareness about the work we do at IOCH by sharing information about our mission and services with your network, on social media, or within your community.

For more detailed information on how you can support us, please visit our support page or contact our team directly. Together, we can make a significant impact on the health and well-being of individuals and communities around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Philosophy Behind Our Approach

The Biopsychosocial (BPS) model is a comprehensive framework that examines the interconnected influences of biological, psychological, and social factors on human health and illness. Developed by George Engel in 1977, this model was introduced as a response to the limitations of the biomedical model, which views illness purely through biological factors, neglecting the critical roles of psychological and social influences.

The BPS model challenges the traditional biomedical approach by emphasizing that health and illness are products of a combination of factors including genetic and biologic influences, psychological conditions, and the social environment. Recognizing that these elements significantly influence health outcomes and the trajectory of disabilities, the model advocates for a more comprehensive approach to healthcare.

This perspective gained further validation when the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987 recommended that all healthcare providers adopt the BPS model. It forms the basis of the International Classification of Function (ICF), reinforcing the necessity of considering these diverse factors in patient care. Over the years, its relevance has expanded beyond general healthcare to include specific fields like sports medicine, where bodies like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) emphasize the need for sports medicine clinicians to understand and apply the BPS model when treating athletes, especially those experiencing pain.

Despite global recognition of its importance, the integration of the BPS model into clinical practice remains limited within both private and hospital-based systems in the USA and worldwide. This is often due to few incentives for adoption under current reimbursement models, increased workload, and a lack of resources for developing competence in BPS care. These challenges hinder the widespread acceptance of the BPS model, which is essential for improving the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of healthcare delivery.

At the Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH), we are committed to advancing this model by integrating it with our Human Rehabilitation Framework (HRF). This approach focuses on personalized, scientific care that transcends traditional healthcare boundaries and addresses the real complexities of life. See this innovative approach in action through our Community Clinic, where we apply these principles to provide effective, personalized care to our community members.

Functional contextualism is a philosophy of science that guides the Institute of Contextual Health (IOCH) in understanding health issues through a comprehensive examination of biological, psychological, and social histories and contexts. This scientific approach underpins our perspective on the Biopsychosocial (BPS) model and Human Rehabilitation Framework (HRF).

By focusing on the diverse factors that influence health, functional contextualism deepens our understanding of the complexities of illness. It supports creating interventions that address both symptoms and their broader environmental and interpersonal influences.

For instance, IOCH extends beyond treating biological aspects of pain to consider psychological and social factors that influence a patient’s pain and health experience. This comprehensive approach ensures our interventions are customized to individual needs, promoting more sustainable and meaningful health outcomes.

Functional contextualism emphasizes practical, goal-directed actions and stresses continual adaptation of strategies to meet the evolving needs of individuals, thereby enhancing our effectiveness in improving client well-being.

Idionomic statistics combine two ideas: ‘idiographic’ and ‘nomothetic.’ Idiographic refers to studying things one at a time, focusing on the unique characteristics of each individual. For example, if you were doing an idiographic study in art class, you might study each painting closely to appreciate its unique style and details. On the other hand, nomothetic is about studying groups to find general rules or laws that apply to everyone. Like in science class, when you learn the laws of gravity that apply to all objects.

Idionomic statistics is a special way of looking at data that brings together both these approaches. It’s like being a coach who not only develops strategies for the soccer team as a whole but also pays close attention to improve each player’s individual skills. In healthcare, this means healthcare providers can use general knowledge about diseases and treatments but also tailor their care to fit each patient’s specific needs. This helps make the treatment more effective because it’s customized just for them.

Multilevel selection theory shows us how natural selection works at many levels—from tiny genes in our cells all the way up to the whole world. Here’s how it plays out at each level, including the global scale:

  1. Genes: At the most basic level, genes are the instructions that control how organisms grow and behave. When genes that work well together increase the survival and reproduction of an organism, they’re more likely to be passed on to the next generation.
  2. Cells: Cells within an organism work together to ensure survival. For example, immune cells might sacrifice themselves to protect the body from disease, which keeps the whole organism healthy.
  3. Individual Organisms: Each animal or plant competes to survive and reproduce. Traits like speed, strength, or camouflage can help an individual stand out and thrive.
  4. Groups: Animals and plants often receive help from forming groups. Wolves hunt in packs to catch prey more effectively, and plants in a forest can create a microclimate that supports the growth of all the trees.
  5. Communities: Larger communities, including various species, interact in ways that can promote the health of the ecosystem. For example, a balanced predator-prey relationship helps prevent any one species from dominating, which supports biodiversity.
  6. Ecosystems: At this level, entire ecosystems like forests, lakes, and coral reefs work in a way that sustains life forms in them. Each ecosystem has a complex web of interactions that help regulate climate, water cycles, and habitat.
  7. The Global Scale: On the largest scale, the Earth itself can be seen as a system where life has changed the planet over billions of years. Life affects the atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces in profound ways that create a more habitable planet. For instance, the oxygen in our atmosphere is largely produced by plants and certain bacteria in the oceans. This global ‘biosphere’ helps regulate the Earth’s climate and supports conditions suitable for life.

Understanding multilevel selection theory at all these levels, including up to the global scale, helps us see how the natural world is interconnected. Actions at one level affect other levels, from genes affecting an individual’s survival to ecosystems influencing global climate patterns. This perspective is crucial for addressing global challenges like climate change, where cooperation across multiple levels—from individual behaviors to international policies—can lead to solutions that help the whole planet.

Symbotype” is a concept that explains how our environment, the words people use, our culture, and the media influence how we think and act about health.

Let’s consider an example where you go to a doctor for back pain. If the doctor describes your back in a way that makes it sound permanently damaged, you might start to think that your condition is hopeless. This perspective is part of your “symbotype,” which is a collection of ideas and beliefs that shape how you manage your health.

Now, think about the impact of words. If healthcare professionals use language that emphasizes negative outcomes, it might make patients feel more anxious or hesitant to engage in activities that could actually aid their recovery. This shows how a symbotype can influence patients’ beliefs and actions of their health.

Cultural beliefs also play a significant role. Each culture has its own views on health, which can influence when they decide to seek medical help or what types of treatment they consider acceptable. For example, there may be cultural stigmas associated with certain conditions that deter individuals from getting the help they need. Media and social networks contribute to forming a symbotype too. The information we absorb from these sources can shape our beliefs about health issues, such as the safety of vaccines or the effectiveness of a new health trend.

Symbotypes influence health behaviors in complex ways. They can promote behaviors that support health and well-being, such as community initiatives that encourage mental health awareness and seeking treatment. At the same time, they can also reinforce behaviors based on misinformation or cultural stigmas that negatively affect health.

In summary, the concept of “symbotype” shows that our health is influenced not only by our physical conditions and medical treatments but also by the broader symbolic and cultural context. Understanding this helps us see why people behave in certain ways about their health and helps in designing health interventions that acknowledge these wider influences, enhancing their effectiveness.

In our approach to care, we focus on processes of therapeutic change. Processes of therapeutic change are the processes that healthcare providers engage in to reduce the complexity of health to the smallest number of factors that explain the most amount of change. These processes focus on how changes happen during treatment. For example, meet Alex, who is dealing with a painful shoulder, we select specific shoulder movements that are designed to minimize pain and enhance mobility. These exercises are chosen not only for their physical benefits but also for their capacity to target key factors contributing to Alex’s shoulder discomfort. As Alex performs these movements, we practice mindful awareness of the sensations in his shoulder and his emotional responses. This helps him observe and acknowledge his feelings without judgment, staying engaged with the present moment.

During these exercises, we also focus on Alex’s emotional reactions to his pain. Understanding and acknowledging these feelings can significantly lessen the psychological distress associated with physical pain. By combining physical movements with mindful awareness of both physical sensations and emotional states, Alex learns to manage his condition more holistically. This approach simplifies the therapy process, focusing on a few critical changes that can lead to significant improvements in both Alex’s physical and emotional health. Through this strategic focus, Alex achieves meaningful progress, illustrating the concept of maximizing change through minimal, targeted interventions.

Ergodic Theory: Ergodic theory is about studying patterns. Imagine a system or a set of rules that keep repeating — this theory looks at what happens over a long time. If you watch these systems long enough, they show a predictable pattern, like most students being of average height. This helps predict what might happen next based on past behavior.

Non-Ergodicity: Non-ergodic systems don’t follow one predictable pattern. They can change based on small differences at the start or along the way. For example, how different people react to the same medicine — some might feel better, while others don’t. This tells us that what works for a group might not work for everyone.

Application in Healthcare: At the Institute of Contextual Health, we study how different people react to treatment, especially for pain and movement problems. We understand that everyone is unique, and changes over time. By using what we know about non-ergodic systems, we make sure to treat each person according to their specific needs, not just what usually works for most people. This helps us give better and more personalized care.


Serving Society

As a nonprofit organization, we are driven by the desire to serve society’s best interests. Our research and educational initiatives are designed to enhance our collective understanding of contextual human health, wellness, and performance. By disseminating knowledge and insights, we seek to make a positive impact on individuals, communities, and global well-being.

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Join Us

We invite researchers, professionals, students, and advocates who share our passion for advancing contextual human health to join us in our endeavors. By collaborating and working together, we can build a future where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and lead a fulfilling life.