What are the implications of a holistic model of health for professional health workers?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holistic Model of Health Care

The international standard for the holistic model of health care, which is embraced by organizations such as the World Health Organization, the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the World Alliance for patient Safety, is defined as a model that views health and illness as "socially construed states" that are comprised of the four systems of the whole person's life-context: the body's organs, the whole person, a person's behavior, and a person's social role function (Dick Wade, Ph.D., "Holistic Health Care: What is it, and how can we achieve it?"). As stated by Wade, elements of the holistic model of health care include:

  • patient-centredness within the holistic health-illness biopsychosocial healthcare model (as opposed to the traditional body-centeredness of the biomedical model).
  • safety of patient (and professional), as in safety from acquiring health care-associated infection.
  • timeliness and effectiveness of interventions and treatments. 
  • efficiency and responsiveness of health professionals and of the delivery of patient-centered care.
  • equity of treatment for all on a global scale since holistic health care is a global concern.

Implications for Professional Health Workers

Some implications of the holistic health care model, as discussed by organizations such as the Oxford Centre for Enablement and the World Health Organization, relate to information and empowerment; rights, needs, responsibilities and capacities; and reaching beyond the confines of the clinic, practitioner's office and hospital into the community to all people whether met as families or as individuals. The following discussion of implications is based upon "People-Centred Health Care: A Policy Framework" published by the World Health Organization:

  • health care professionals will participate in ensuring that individuals are informed and empowered as to how to independently promote and protect their own health.
  • health care professionals will be instrumental in providing balanced consideration of the rights, needs, responsibilities, capacities of all healthcare stakeholders from patients to professional health care workers.
  • health care professionals will be challenged to reach out into the community beyond the clinical setting to address health and illness in the "physical environment, social environment, and time" comprising the life-context of their patients.