Integral Human Development

Holistic approach in healthcare

Helga Martins1 & Silvia Caldeira2

1Helga Martins

Pos-doctoral Fellow at Integral Human Development Program, PhD, RN, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Doctoral School (CADOS). Faculty of Health Sciences and Nursing, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Health, Lisbon, Portugal.

Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Escola Superior de Saúde. R. Dr. José Correia Maltez, 7800-111 Beja, Portugal.



2Sílvia Caldeira

PhD, MSc, RN, Associate Professor, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Faculty of Health Sciences and Nursing, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Health, Lisbon, Portugal.



Holistic approach in healthcare

Holistic health care has only gained prominence in recent decades, it’s important to note that it is not a recent phenomenon. Since this reality of considering people as a whole, in their integrality, is a common practice in traditional Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurveda and various indigenous healing approaches.

Transposing the analysis to Western medicine, the holistic approach only gained importance in the 20th century, when it began to change the approach to the patient. In the 1970s, the biomedical model started to lose some importance and received criticism due to its reductionist approach (Farre & Rapley, 2017). This new rational, with a holistic view, began to see the patient as a whole in their scope of health, not just their physical dimension but also focusing on the emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions. This new approach allowed a comprehensive and holistic response to the health needs of patients (Jasemi et al., 2017).

Holistic care is complex and brings a deep understanding of patients’ needs (Filej & Kaucic, 2013). Its definition corroborates its complexity, in which holistic care is defined as focusing on the totality of a patient within a social and cultural context and considering family background, health beliefs, sexual orientation, values, and the uniqueness of the patient’s needs (Jasemi et al., 2017). However, the “holistic care” concept itself is evolving, with a massive openness to other scientific evidence and new approaches that can complement and improve clinical practice in health.

The contribution of holistic care to the patient is effective in health gains, shorter hospitalization time, faster recovery, and, ultimately, greater satisfaction with the care provided (Jasemi et al., 2017). The contribution also brings together health professionals themselves, increasing feelings of personal and professional development, in which they are bathed in feelings of satisfaction, competence and usefulness (Jasemi et al., 2017). Given previous results, the benefits are concrete for integral human development. Only considering the person as an integral system in all its dimensions can we achieve the development of their integral health.

In the future, health must be committed to a holistic approach that is persistent and real, with a growing concern for the human condition in its integrality and promoting clinical practice in health.


Farre, A., & Rapley, T. (2017). The new old (and old new) medical model: Four decades navigating the biomedical and psychosocial understandings of health and illness. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland)5(4), 88.

Filej, B. & Kaucic, B. M. (2017) Holistic nursing practice. South Eastern European Journal of Public Health, 3(1), 1‑7.

Jasemi, M., Valizadeh, L., Zamanzadeh, V., & Keogh, B. (2017). A concept analysis of holistic care by hybrid model. Indian Journal of Palliative Care23(1), 71–80.

OpenEdition sugere que esta publicação seja citada da seguinte forma:
helgamartins (4 de Fevereiro de 2024). Holistic approach in healthcare. Desenvolvimento Humano Integral. Recuperado em 15 de Julho de 2024 de

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