Holistic Approaches to Good Health

Portrait of Professor David Martin
New Professor of Medicine Dr. David Martin, Photo: UW/H

Before Professor Dr. med. David Martin became a doctor, he already had contact with the community hospital in Herdecke as a 19-year old trainee. Now, 25 years later and with extensive experience as a head doctor under his belt, he is now returning to the University of Witten/Herdecke as Professor of Medicine. His research focuses on how the medical field can make more effective use of internal and natural resources, as well as take advantage of opportunities created by digitalization. In addition, he would like to contribute to the further development and discussion of integrative and anthropological approaches at the university level. Although such approaches are gaining more popularity and acceptance, there was for a long time little systematic research into their effectiveness. Only in the last decades has this changed, step for step. “Studies are showing more and more clearly how effective integrative and anthropological approaches can be for many illnesses - from acute infections to chronic back pain and depression,” said Professor Martin.

In July 2017 Martin assumed the Gerhard Kienle Chair of Medical Theory, Integrative and Anthroposophical Medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke. He grew up in the USA, England, and France and is trained in children's and youth medicine, endocrinology, and oncology. As a paediatrician, he sees holistic therapy as his true calling. His first research project in Witten is examining the treatment of fevers in children. “We know that the immune system works faster and more efficiently when there is a fever. Now we are working together with local colleagues and health insurance companies to examine how we can improve and strengthen how parents treat fevers, so that we can avoid the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics,” said Professor Martin. The project, titled the “Fever App Registry,” was successful in obtaining support from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF).

Holistic Approaches to Teaching
For David Martin, it is essential that future doctors learn to think holistically and openly. For him, this means understanding medical science in all its diversity and bringing students into contact with different perspectives. This includes, in particular, the tension between reductionist and spiritual approaches. “I want to transmit to young people an image of human beings and the world that is inspiring and dignifying. Medicine and science in general are responsible for developing an understanding of human beings that is healing and that leads to peace. These values are held very dear at the University of Witten/Herdecke, and the Gerhard Kienle Chair of Medical Theory, Integrative and Anthroposophical Medicine will pursue these values in theory and praxis – thanks in particular to the 15-year commitment of the Software AG Foundation,” said Martin. “Thanks to the excellent work of my predecessors, Professor Peter Matthiessen and Professor Peter Heusse, as well as Professor Arndt Büssing, who is known for his research on spirituality and quality of life, this department and its excellent team are ideally positioned to scientifically pursue these topics.”

Further Information
More information about Professor David Martin and his department can be found here (in German): https://www.uni-wh.de/gesundheit/department-fuer-humanmedizin/lehrstuehle-institute-und-zentren/lehrstuhl-fuer-medizintheorie-integrative-und-anthroposophische-medizin/

The research project mentioned here is titled “The FeverApp Registry: Qualitative and Quantitative evaluation of the effect of a Parental Decision-Aid App on antipyretic and antibiotic use and on short-term and long-term outcome of pediatric febrile infections.”

Evidence for the effectiveness of anthroposophical approaches to fever illnesses can be read, for example, here: https://www.medsektion-goetheanum.org/en/research/investigating-clinical-fields/antimicrobial-resistance/

More information about the University Witten/Herdecke: www.uni-wh.de/en/uwh-international/start/

Press Contact:
Marina Frieben (Assistant to Professor Martin) via email marina.frieben(at)uni-wh.de or telephone +49 2330 62 4761.

Since its founding in 1982, the University of Witten/Herdecke (UW/H) has been playing a leading role in the German education landscape. As a model university with around 2,400 students in health, business, and culture, the UW/H stands for reform of the traditional alma mater. At UW/H, knowledge transfer always takes place hand in hand with values orientation and personal development.

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