What Is a Holistic Health Assessment?

Holistic health assessments include a patient's physiological state as well as psychological, sociological, development, spiritual and culture aspects

The goal for nursing practice has always been to heal the whole person in body, mind and spirit. The focus on the wellness and interrelationship of people and the environment dates back to the practices of Florence Nightingale, a 19th century nurse who is considered the founder of holistic nursing. Yet it wasn’t until 2006 that the American Nursing Association (ANA) recognized holistic nursing as a specialty.

The incorporation of a holistic, person-centered approach to patient care continues to gain importance, especially with the ongoing changes in healthcare reform. The practice of viewing the individual, family and community as an interconnected system can help with disease prevention. It encourages patients to become more involved in self-care to work on their long-term health and wellness goals. Lamar University recognizes the importance of a comprehensive holistic health assessment and includes this course within its online RN to BSN curriculum.

What Is a Holistic Health Assessment?

A holistic health assessment goes beyond focusing solely on physical health. It also addresses emotional, mental and spiritual health. The whole condition of the patient is taken into consideration for ongoing wellness across the lifespan. The development of a relationship with the patient begins with open, therapeutic communication. This supportive, non-judgmental method of assessment recognizes that the patient’s stress levels, diet and relationship issues can often exacerbate many ailments.

A holistic health assessment allows the nurse to gain information essential for diagnosis, planning and implementation. It shows respect for the patient’s preferences and preserves the patient’s dignity. The six aspects of a holistic assessment include:

  1. Physiological: Complete a physical assessment.
  2. Psychological: Review potential stressors that might exacerbate the ailment.
  3. Sociological: Discuss family networks and who can help at home.
  4. Developmental: Consider how psychosocial and cognitive development may affect the patient’s response to the health issue.
  5. Spiritual: Respectfully ask about religious and spiritual practices and determine if nursing care will need to be altered.
  6. Cultural: Discuss special diet, values or culture-specific requests.

Integrating the six aspects of a holistic assessment into the nursing assessment can help identify an underlying cause of the illness or whether other factors are delaying recovery. Nurses can use this approach to glean information regarding the patient’s family dynamics, values, beliefs and other factors that would inform the care delivered and the patient’s healing. This can result in more effective treatment and optimal health. Lamar University offers an online comprehensive holistic health assessment course in its RN to BSN program that can help nurses build upon existing assessment skills.

What Does It Really Mean for Nurses?

The practice of holistic health nursing is based on the premise that self-care is necessary to effectively care for others. Nurses who practice holistic nursing incorporate a philosophy of responsibility to the self and a commitment to integrate self-care into their personal life. They strive to increase their awareness of their connection to the environment and remove barriers to the healing process. This allows them to provide more comprehensive care.

Holistic nurses combine mainstream and complementary, or alternative healing modalities (CAM). Some of these modalities include meditation, massage, deep breathing, natural products, yoga or music. Offering more treatment options suitable for different lifestyles provides patients a greater healing potential.

Why Is Holistic Health Nursing Important?

More hospitals recognize and utilize integrative health services. Unlike other specialties that are defined by a client group or a disease category, holistic nursing can be practiced in almost every area of care and in all settings. This patient-centered, practical and sustainable approach to well-being can be beneficial to patients of any age. The authentic, real relationships developed by utilizing the practices of holistic nursing can be beneficial to the patient and rewarding for the nurse.

Learn more about online RN to BSN programs.


Sources:

American Holistic Health Association: Principles of Holistic Medicine

American Holistic Nurses Association: What is Holistic Nursing?

American Nurse Today: Holistic Nursing: Focusing on the Whole Person

American Nurses Association: Health System Reform

Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine


 

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