Annie Altschul

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Annie Altschul, CBE, FRCN (b. 18 February 1919, Vienna – d. 24 December 2001, Edinburgh) was a British nurse, midwife, researcher and educator.

Early years[edit]

Born in Vienna, Annie Therese Altschul was five years old when her father was killed in a railway accident. She was studying mathematics at the University of Vienna when she had to leave Austria in 1939, then under Nazi rule. She came to London with her mother, sister and young nephew. Altschul worked first as a "mother's help" to learn English before qualifying as a general nurse and midwife. She trained as a nurse for the mentally ill in the early 1940s at the Army mental hospital which had been set up at Mill Hill school in London. Altschul later said that psychiatric nurses recruit themselves and that people who take to psychiatric nursing are different from those who want to be general nurses. She believed that psychiatric nurses have an affinity for the underdog. (


Altschul trained as a nurse and midwife at Epsom County Hospital. In 1946, she became a staff nurse at the Maudsley Hospital, a psychiatric centre. In 1964 Altschul left the Maudsley to be a lecturer in the Department of Nursing Studies at Edinburgh University. Altschul's MSc thesis, entitled 'Measurement of patient-nurse interaction in relation to in-patient psychiatric treatment', was supervised by Elsie Stephenson in 1967.[1] In 1972 Altschul wrote Patient-Nurse Interaction, and in 1976 she became Professor of Nursing Studies, remaining at Edinburgh University until her retirement in 1983.


Prof. Altschul observed the effects when patients were moved to smaller accommodations during the redecoration of the large wards at Dingleton mental hospital in the Scottish Borders. She observed that the closer interaction between nurses and patients resulted in less hyperactivity and less need for certain types of medications.


  • Mental Health Commission in Scotland
  • The Socialist Medical Association
  • The Scottish General Nursing Council
  • Royal College of Nursing


She was appointed CBE in 1983. She established the Professor Annie Altschul Publication Prize.


  1. ^ Tilley, Stephen (15 April 2008). Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing: The Field of Knowledge. John Wiley & Sons. p. 43. 

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