What is health promotion and why is it important in our world today? I am sure it seems the answer is not very complicated: but is it as simple as promoting health? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health” (World, 2013). This is a change from the past in that healthcare providers are encouraging our patients to take control of their own health while guiding and educating them in the right direction.
Health has been shown not to just be free from disease but also encompasses physical, mental, and social well-being (WHO 2013). The whole purpose of promoting individual health is to give the communities the ability to feel they have control over their health plan and help them to stay out of the hospitals, which is what they prefer. This takes cooperation by the patient and the healthcare provider. It is imperative that a nurse stay up to date with a continuous changing healthcare pattern, since they have a big role in health promotion.
A big part of health promotion is related to nurses educating the communities, especially since nurses are becoming more and more involved in the communities. As time advances, researchers are predicting nurses will move more out of the hospital and into the communities. Now, more than ever, nurses are challenged to improve patient outcomes by assessing and creating education plans that will increase the patient’s awareness and understanding of their disease process and management.
After very thorough assessments and the need for education is completed, nurses must create a plan for implementing a strategy to reach the audience targeted.
It states in the article Public Health Nutrition: Focus on Prevention, the three different levels of implementation methods utilized today. The first method is individually focused and promotes health outcomes through educating, changes to a healthy lifestyle, and individual behaviors. The types of interventions are carried out through one-on-one educational discussions and telephone conversations. The next implementation tier is more community-focused. These interventions put the spotlight on the needs of the community, as an example, such as public posters or classes to promote diet modification.
The last method to be identified in the article include system-focused interventions. These interventions shift the focus from the individual to the facilities that serve individuals and the laws and policies surrounding the facility. For example, improvements in school lunches to make them healthier (University, 2012). If the healthcare providers can use the combination of the three methods listed above with the nursing process it can to improve outcomes of the patients and community in all areas of nursing. Health promotion is split by healthcare into three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary.
Primary prevention’s main concept is to prevent the disease from occurring and keeping the public healthy. A couple of examples of how this is accomplished are through education, regular exams, and immunizations. A few years ago the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners published an article, Reducing heart disease through the vegetarian diet using primary prevention, and it discusses how if a patient leads a vegan lifestyle this could cut out a lot of the processed foods and help the patient to improve chronic heart conditions.
If one is unsure exactly how to pursue a vegetarian diet having a consultation with a dietitian is an additional option. Next on the pyramid of health is secondary prevention. This layer of prevention focuses on after an injury or illness has been diagnosed. The goal is to prevent progression or slow down the disease. Using the example of heart disease above, if providers are teaching regarding secondary prevention it would include termination of smoking, diet and exercise, and keeping a healthy weight and blood pressure (Mosca, i. e. 2010). These goals are more patient specific than primary prevention.
The last tier includes tertiary prevention which focuses on helping the public prevent a further decline in health while maximizing their quality of life after being diagnosed with a chronic condition. In a recent article, The Effects of Cardiac Tertiary Prevention Program after Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery on Health and Quality of Life, it discusses cardiac rehabilitation as a possibility to fall into the tertiary level. This falls into the category in that it helps restore patient’s well-being while decreasing the suffering and complications.
This does take even more participation and cooperation of the patient. In conclusion, there are many things healthcare providers can attempt to do in order to educate the public. However, utilizing the three tiers of health promotion (primary, secondary, tertiary) shows a well-organized technique that can break down different levels of health. Every patient falls into at least one category on the continuum, so this is also making it easier for the provider when educating in that they can customize the patient’s care plan in a more organized way.
This includes utilizing the nursing process, critical thinking, and therapeutic communication allowing nurses to identify where the patient fits into the wellness continuum and helping them reach their highest level of wellbeing.
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