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Anthroposophic Nursing (AN) is an integrative, holistic nursing approach based on the principles of Anthroposophic Medicine created by the physician Dr. Ita Wegman, and based on the philosophic principles of Dr. Rudolf Steiner. AN enhances allopathic nursing care with an anthroposophic understanding of the human being (concept of four-foldness) and human body functionality (three-foldness and twelve senses). As a holistic nursing model, it emphasizes a spiritual understanding of health and illness.

A fundamental construct of AN are the tailored use of the twelve nursing gestures (Heine 2007, von Dach, 2008). These AN care observations are based on the understanding and the awareness of the meaning and value of the inner mood or the inner gesture of a nurse while caring for a patient.

The inner mood or gesture of nursing is a crucial aspect distinguishing AN. It involves the question, not merely of what we do for patients, but of the intention and way in which we provide care. Therefore, the inner gesture which guides AN is a central influence in providing care. The traditional AN’s daily practice is nursing care but also enhances the care through the use of external applications, (such as compresses, or wraps with different healing substances) and Rhythmical Einreibung (rhythmic oil application). The use of Anthroposophic Medicine enhances the foundation of AN. Dr. Rudolf Steiner identified the external treatments as a cornerstone of Anthroposophic Medicine. From the beginning of Anthroposophic healthcare, both Medicine and Nursing, Dr. Ita Wegman prescribed many external treatments.

Evidence-based practice is informed by many different qualitative and quantitative sources (Melnyk and Fineout-Overholt, 2011): evidence-based literature, patient preferences based on their lived experience and clinical evaluations. AN is based strongly on both clinical expertise and patient preference. To analyse the outcomes of AN, various research instruments are used depending on the nature of the question and often includes qualitative and quantitative tools with many studies utilizing of the Living body mixed methodologies. The phenomenological approach (especially of the Living body per Merleau-Ponty, Waldenfels, Fuchs) and others fits very well into the philosophical understanding upon which AN is based.

Currently, the limited evidence-based literature includes the mechanism of action of the Rhythmical Einreibung, of Solum Uliginosum by Bertram, and the effect of ginger compresses by Therkleson.
It is a call of our current time to advance clinical nursing research into the benefits, both to patients and nurses, of AN care. There is also a need to accumulate evidence demonstrating and revealing both the mechanism of action and effectiveness of the external treatments, especially wraps and compresses.

Read more ... Exemplary literature

June 2018

Dr. Christoph von Dach (RN, MSc. Pall. Care, ANS, DNP)

International expert panel:
Dr. rer. medic. Mathias Bertram, (RN, ANS)
Sakura Fujiwara (RN, MSN), Japan Eiko Taylor (RN, MSN)
Dr. Val Lincoln (RN, PhD), Laurie Schmiesing (RN, MSN, ANS, CBP, QTTP)