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The Town That Found a Potent Cure for Illness—Community

Frome in Somerset, England has seen a dramatic fall in emergency hospital admissions since it began a new collective project. The source for this medical breakthrough was surprising. It's called community.

After a trial study, the data showed that when isolated people who have health problems are supported by community groups and volunteers, the number of emergency admissions to hospital falls spectacularly. One doctor remarked, "No other interventions on record have reduced emergency admissions across a population."

The Compassionate Frome project was launched in 2013 by Helen Kingston, a GP there. She kept seeing patients who seemed defeated by the medicalization of their lives: treated as if they were a cluster of symptoms rather than a human being who happened to have health problems.

So she helped set up a directory of agencies and community groups. They employed "health connectors" and trained voluntary "community connectors" to help their patients find the support they needed. The goal was to break an unhealthy cycle: illness leads to isolation and loneliness, which then exacerbates illness.

Dozens of other studies have reinforced these conclusions. For example, HIV patients with strong social support have lower levels of the virus than those without. Women have better chances of surviving colorectal cancer if they have strong connections. Most remarkably, older patients with either one or two chronic diseases do not have higher death rates than those who are not suffering from chronic disease—as long as they have high levels of social support.

Possible Preaching Angle: Caring; Church, community; Fellowship; Support – Research again verifies God's design for the church; that fellowship and caring are literally good for physical (and spiritual) health.

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