Holistic Nursing Care’ Principles and Essentials

Principles and Essentials of Holistic Nursing Care

Holistic nursing care refers to a patient as a whole. According to the principles of holistic nursing care, a nurse integrates self-care, responsibility, and spirituality based on such concepts as mind, spirit, body, emotion, and environment (Dossey & Keegan, 2016). A range of other principles involves preventive education, self-awareness promotion, and application of complementary medicine. There are four essentials of the holistic caring process that are accepted by the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). The first essential of the comprehensive evaluation of a patient is followed by the second one that can be identified as the integration of objective data with his or her needs. The third essential of the holistic nursing process is a collaboration with a patient concerning his or her health issues. The last essential assumes consistency and continuation of holistic care.

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Patient Needs and Holistic Plan of Care

While developing a holistic care plan, a nurse must consider a patient needs that depend on a certain person. In particular, there are patients of different ages, sex, culture, religious beliefs, and other peculiarities. What is more important, people have different understandings of health and illness. Some patients may think that mild headache is normal while others believe that it requires immediate hospitalization (Dossey & Keegan, 2016). It is also should be taken into account that the same illness may impact a person differently, be it emotional state or physical condition. Thus, a holistic plan of care should be developed according to a patient’s individual needs and perceptions.

Complimentary, Alternative, and Western Medicine

On the contrary to Western medicine that is accepted as conventional one in the western part of the world, complementary and alternative medicines are often used as the same concept that is known as complementary and alternative therapies (CAMs) (Olver & Robotin, 2012). However, there are certain differences and similarities between CAMs and western medicine. Complementary therapy can be applied along with conventional therapy as an additional measure, while alternative medicine is usually used instead of it as a separate treatment. To make things clear, it seems important to list possible options for each medicine that was mentioned above. Complementary medicine involves yoga, massage, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and other similar options. Alternative therapy includes Gerson therapy, shark cartilage, or laetrile.

As can be seen from the above observations, CAMs focus on helping patients to feel better by improving their quality of life, while conventional medicine aims at curing or controlling the disease as long as possible. The core similarity of all the mentioned therapies is the fact that they are directed to health improvement. CAMs use a non-medical treatment such as proper nutrition or music therapy. For example, according to Gerson therapy, a special nutrition program that includes fresh juices, fruits, vegetables, and vitamins can cure cancer (Olver & Robotin, 2012). However, this therapy cannot be considered as evidence-based one and thus absolutely reliable. Nevertheless, the application of Gerson therapy along with adequate exercise complex is undoubtedly useful for health as it tones an organism up and improves its protective functions. Nutrition and exercise are the two fundamentals that shape a basis for health, good mood, and appearance.

Speaking of humor and music therapy, it is essential to note that they have a strong impact on a patient’s health. Takeda et al. (2010) state that “humor can be used as a defense mechanism in an adverse setting and has obvious value for dementia patients if it is properly addressed and accepted” (p. 7). Another therapeutic effect of humor and music relates to the fact that it relieves physical pain and reduces stress in patients. Furthermore, they facilitate digestion, increase the ability to memorize, enhance blood flow, and improve the immune system. In other words, the use of appropriate music and humor can significantly affect both the mental and physical states of a patient.

Barriers to Changing Current Healthcare System

The integrative system of care incorporates conventional medicine and alternative and complementary therapies. Despite the benefits of CAMs that were described earlier in this paper, the current healthcare system remains one-sided as there are several barriers to making it more integrative. The first challenge is limited evidence-based information and the lack of research on CAMs that make the integration with conventional medicine rather slow (Olver & Robotin, 2012). The second barrier is the inertia of the status quo – a situation when patients resist change, preferring to save the current state of affairs (Suri, Sheppes, Schwartz, & Gross, 2013). Instead of selecting the most appropriate option, they make the default choice. The third factor impeding change is a combination of ethical and safety issues associated with CAMs (Dossey & Keegan, 2016). The core complication is that the mentioned boundaries are not properly organized and do not coincide with those of conventional medicine.

Case Summary and Review of Patient Needs

The patient under consideration is a 27-year-old man with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Being a single parent, he has an underage child. The patient’s wife died in an accident. Currently, the patient suffers from occasional depression and insomnia. It should be noted that the patient leads a healthy lifestyle, namely, he and his son eat healthy food and exercise. Thus, it seems necessary to eliminate the present symptoms of PTSD to prevent potential complications and improve his quality of life. Both conventional and holistic nursing care can be used.

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Rationales and Interventions

First of all, it is necessary to address insomnia and depression cases by visiting a doctor to consult drug intake. It is also important for a nurse to establish open and friendly relationships with the patient and his family to identify and, thus, address their healthcare needs timely. Second, as for CAMs, it is possible to recommend trying relaxation massage that affects muscles and revitalizes the organism in general. Massage activates the movement of lymph and blood, stimulates the secretion of hormones of happiness – endorphins, and suppresses the release of stress hormones (Olver & Robotin, 2012). Massage treatment can be combined with aromatherapy. Properly selected essential oils can relieve nervous and muscle tension, fatigue, insomnia, and depression. Also, it can be useful to try ayurvedic medicine, focusing on Indian techniques that are based on herbs, nutrition, and others and consider the body, mind, and spirit as a whole. Summing it up, it is possible to state that complementary or alternative therapies integrated with conventional medicine can help this patient to feel better and take a new look at his life.

Impact of Complementary and Alternative Medicine on My Nursing Practice

In my opinion, my practice will be largely affected by alternative and complementary modalities as it is likely to provide a completely new experience. I believe that CAMs can make a nurse and a patient closer in terms of healthcare delivery, thus promoting its improvement and transition to integrative medicine. I consider that a holistic nursing care plan based on the comprehensive vision of a person will undoubtedly increase the opportunity to address the patient’s current needs.


Dossey, B. M., & Keegan, L. (2016). Holistic nursing: A handbook for practice (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Olver, I. N., & Robotin, M. C. (2012). Perspectives on complementary and alternative medicines. London, UK: Imperial College Press.

Suri, G., Sheppes, G., Schwartz, C., & Gross, J. J. (2013). Patient inertia and the status quo bias: When an inferior option is preferred. Psychological Science, 24(9), 1763-1769.

Takeda, M., Hashimoto, R., Kudo, T., Okochi, M., Tagami, S., Morihara, T.,… Tanaka, T. (2010). Laughter and humor as complementary and alternative medicines for dementia patients. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 10(28), 1-7.

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1. StudyCorgi. "Holistic Nursing Care' Principles and Essentials." September 15, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/holistic-nursing-care-principles-and-essentials/.


StudyCorgi. "Holistic Nursing Care' Principles and Essentials." September 15, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/holistic-nursing-care-principles-and-essentials/.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Holistic Nursing Care' Principles and Essentials." September 15, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/holistic-nursing-care-principles-and-essentials/.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Holistic Nursing Care' Principles and Essentials'. 15 September.

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