Originating over five thousand years ago in China and India, holistic health focuses on considering all potential contributing factors which may affect a person’s well-being when assessing a person’s overall health (Wikipedia, 2011). Since each factor influences at least one other factor and the whole, all factors should be evaluated equally and as a whole. Holistic practices have become more common and are supported by ancient philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates (2011).
Despite the long history of nursing, many concepts of holistic assessment brought forth by Florence Nightingale are still in place (Dossey, 2005). She outlines a variety of ideas throughout her well-known “Notes on Nursing” in regards to holistic health concepts. Nightingale focuses on cleanliness and purity of the whole environment including specific standards for the air, water, light, linens, diet, and noise (Nightingale, 1860). Each of these components is not necessarily more important than the other but equally significant to yield the optimum overall health.
Including mind, body, and spirit in assessment is imperative to the holistic model (Jarvis, 2008). More specific factors include culture and values, family and social roles, self-care behaviors, job-related stress, developmental tasks, and failures and frustrations of life (2008). A comprehensive assessment collects data from these categories. The provider constructs a plan to address all factors as a whole and then implements it.
The results are then reviewed to determine the effectiveness and provide feedback for changes to the plan. This creates an ongoing course which should be conducted at regular intervals. Internal and external aspects of individuals are considered as a totality through this nursing process. Each individual assessment will be unique, even among members of the same family unit.
Complementary and alternative concepts are additional methods of enhancing holistic health. Practices such as acupressure, guided imagery, humor, massage, meditation and therapeutic touch/healing touch were formerly regarded as controversial but today they are more widely used and accepted (Frisch, 2011).
In addition to these techniques, theories and concepts of complementary nursing are in practice as well. One method encourages the nurse to become an imitation of the client. This is done by carefully observing the client and mimicking his actions and behaviors. Findings through this model provide an experience of what the client’s world is like and even what and how they think (2011).
Roy’s Theory of Adaptation focuses on different types of stimuli and how they affect the client (Frisch, 2011). Stimuli are assessed by the nurse and subsequently altered with intent to provide optimal influence on the client. Music therapy and aromatherapy are two practices used to modify the environment of a client in a constructive manner (2011). Various nursing theorists, including Rogers, Newman, and Parse, have discussed ‘human energy field’ and ‘environmental energy field’ (2011). These concepts include Reiki and Healing Touch and ultimately provides an understanding of energy exchange and its effects between the nurse and client (2011).
Humancare explains the importance of interaction and connection between two people as the basis of nursing (Frisch, 2011). Interaction includes active participation from both parties through conversation, activities, and touch. Connection occurs through continued interactions. These components establish a therapeutic relationship and even a healing presence. Here the nurse is relating to the client as whole being to whole being (2011).
Holistic health concepts encourage nurses to derive a more preventive theme for clients’ health. Assessment through holistic modalities provides information not available during a focused line of questioning or exam. Viewing the whole person assists the nurse in becoming HOLISTIC 4
more aware of health risks and formulating a more comprehensive plan to consider the whole being and not just one aspect. Harmony between body, mind, emotion, and spirit should be paramount (Frisch, 2011). This can be achieved by providing treatment to all factors contributing to a client’s health.
In conclusion, many different theories and practices of holistic health have been adapted into nursing from ancient times to current. These methods are used in conjunction with different techniques to assess and promote the best whole health for each client. Concepts, theories and techniques continue to develop and are more accepted today. As standards for holistic practices evolve, nursing embraces these complementary methods more readily.
HOLISTIC 5 ReferencesDossey, B. Florence Nightingale and Holistic Nursing. NSNA, Feb/Mar 2005. RetrievedApril 8, 2011, from www.nsna.org .Frisch, N. “Nursing as a Context for Alternative/Complementary Modalities”. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 6 No. 2. Retrieved April 8, 2011, from www.nursingworld.org .
Jarvis, C.(2008). Physical Examination & Health Assessment (5th ed.). Saunders, Elsevier. pp7-9.
Nightingale, F.(1860). Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It’s Not. Pp 24,44,58,79,84,87,93.
Retrieved April 8, 2011, from http://digital.library.upenn.edu .
Wikepedia, E. Holistic health. Retrieved April 8, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org .