Attention to Humoral Understandings in Diagnosis and Physical Examinations
Humoral understandings emanate from the humoral pathology or theory created by Hippocrates and expanded by physicians like Galen. The theory states that the body comprises four ‘humors’ or bodily fluids, including the phlegm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile. When these humors are balanced, then the individual is healthy, but disease results when an imbalance exists in these humors (Sebers, 2016). Humoralism emphasized the environment as the cause of the diseases and encouraged understanding illnesses through empirical observation and the individuals’ constitution. Pathology and physiology were considered prerequisites in treating sick people and emphasized that they should be examined as thoroughly as possible from a physical point of view and their mode of life, occupation, present, and past diseases and complaints.
Healthcare providers can enhance their ability to pay closer attention to humoral understandings in diagnosis and physical exams through person-centered medicine (PCM). PCM involves building effective therapeutic relationships founded on trust, compassion, empathy, and responsiveness to individuals’ values and needs (Breimeier, 2018). Guided by PCM, healthcare providers should practice medical interventions that have greater personalization and humanization. Assessment of each situation or scenario should be in terms of the patient to identify what is important to them. Some might value their psychological or physical health but not their spiritual health, and it all depends on what the individual prioritizes and values. Regardless of the situation, the healthcare provider should strive to identify such priorities and values during examination and diagnosis to tailor interventions to meet such needs individually. Thorough history taking is vital, and this includes the psychosocial, physical, epidemiological, and complete history of present and past diseases. The holistic concept emphasized by both nursing and medicine is also essential. It points out that the healthcare providers’ role is to focus not only on affected organs but also on the whole body, including spiritual and psychosocial fields, integral to health and well-being.
Breimeier, C. (2018). The Emergence of Modern Humoralism. Frontier. https://frontiersmag.wustl.edu/2018/04/28/the-emergence-of-modern-humoralism/
Sebers, R. (2016). What’s Your Temperament: the Humoral Theory’s Influence on Medicine in Ancient Greece.