HEALTH IMPROVEMENT IN NURSING
16th, April, 2012
Identify an individual or group of people who have a specific health improvement or health promotion need with rationale for your choice.
Nursing aims at improving and protecting health of people. Therefore, nurses in their practice mainly aim at contributing to health improvement. All nurses act as health-promoting professionals, thus they aim at maximizing the outcomes of health of the patients they deal with (Nursing Times.net 2012). In order to improve health in nursing, nurses require collaboration with other different bodies, such as governments, the local communities, as well as their patients. Nurses utilize various strategies, which will promote positive health and well-being of individuals. Therefore, nurses are core in health improvement, and these are committed to their patients and aim at improving the health status of their patients, including those who suffer from long-term conditions. Nurses also provide care to the marginalized in society, and participate in a variety of public health programmes. Nonetheless, different people today need health improvement, but sometimes might lack to access it. Therefore, this paper will focus on overweight people with a BMI of 25-30kg kg/m2.These need health improvement, in order to come back to the normal and healthy weight, but have been misinformed or lack access to information.
Overweight people need health improvement and promotion, mainly because, today this is a worrying health issue, as a great number of people are overweight. The large number of overweight people is therefore, an indication that enough efforts have not been adopted to address this health issue. In order to improve health for this group of people, it is important to increase their awareness of sugar intake, as is an important aspect that is overlooked by most overweight people, while some lack reliable information about this. Sugar intake should be explained to them with regard to diabetes, which some overweight people are susceptible to. This should also be explained with regard to weight loss, since control of sugar intake might help one to control their weight.
Diabetes is experienced today at a higher rate compared to past decades. When one is overweight, they are at risk of being diabetic. Therefore, the increased prevalence of diabetes shows that one of the root causes, which is excessive weight in people, has not been given the attention it needs for improvement. Globally, the prevalence of diabetes is expected to hit a high of 552 million people by the year 2030. In 2011, prevalence of diabetes stood at 366 million people (Diabetes UK 2011). On the other hand, the UK is one of the countries, which is registering increased cases of diabetes every year. In the year 1996, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK was 1.4 million. However, this number has increased to 2.9 million, and it is expected to reach 5 million in 2055. This therefore, makes diabetes to be one of the health challenges in the UK today (Diabetes UK 2011). In order to improve this case and promote good health of the people in the UK, it is crucial that information about diabetes, its cause and effects, and prevention be disseminated to the whole population, to increase their awareness so that they can adopt the correct preventive and control strategies (Diabetes UK 2011).
The most prevalent diabetes type in the UK is Type 2 diabetes, which is highly associated with being overweight or obese. Initially, this affected people aged above 40 years, but today, this affects even young people and children (Public Health England 2013: London Health Improvement Board 2011). Nonetheless, the number of obese and overweight people in the UK keeps rising, thus the rise in the prevalence of diabetes (Diabetes UK 2011). Similarly, government records from the UK department of health show that in England, 61.3% of adults are overweight and obsess, in addition to 30% of children. Evidence also shows that overweight or obese people are more likely to end up diabetic, thus costing the government a large amount of expenses on their medication (GOV.UK 2013).
The recommended actions for this issue include increasing people’s awareness about healthy eating and drinking, and exercise. For instance, today the National Obesity Forum (NOF) is concerned with raising awareness of obesity, which is considered an epidemic today (National Obesity Forum 2011). In addition, companies should produce healthy food for human consumption. For instance, through cutting on sugar and salt ingredients, which are harmful, encouraging people to consume more fruits and including calorie count on menus, and ensuring low calories in food. In addition, it is proposed that local authorities must participate by providing weight loss services to the affected people (GOV.UK 2013).
Therefore, the key to improving health of the overweight people in the UK is through increasing their awareness of all important information about obesity, diabetes, and other risks involved, including control measures. The rationale behind this is that most people are misinformed today. There is too much information on the internet, in the media, and in other channels, which sometimes mislead the affected people. Therefore, information to increase people’s awareness should be disseminated through the right, trusted, and official channels, which will reach more people (GOV.UK 2013).
Critically evaluate deficits in practice when promoting health for this individual or group
Most people, whether obese, overweight, or not, fail to understand and to master the art of healthy eating. Obesity and increased weight are all related with the kind of diet a person feeds on. Most importantly, the major deficit in people is failing to realize the negative side of sugar, as it is harmful, addictive, and capable of causing metabolic syndrome. In this case, sugar can be in the form of fructose or table sugar. Today, most people have concentrated on table sugar alone, since they regard this as the only source of diabetes and increased weight gain. However, Zoe Harrison, advices that sugar does not cause diabetes. He is a clinical advisor, thus, encourages people to consider sugar content in their whole diet and not table sugar alone, if they want to prevent diabetes (UK Diabetes 2010). Additionally, UK Diabetes (2010) recommends people to eat a diet that is low in fats, sugar, salt, and big proportion of vegetables and fruits. This should be accompanied by at least thirty minutes of physical exercise each day (Diabetes UK 2010).
On the other hand, although most people are misguided that only overweight people are susceptible to diabetes, research has shown otherwise. A study showed that increased sugar intake might lead to type 2 diabetes, even if a person is not overweight or obese (Diabetes.co.uk 2013). Therefore, this study disapproves of the common belief that sugar leads to diabetes indirectly by first causing obesity then obesity resulting in diabetes. In this study in 175 countries, researchers failed to explain a direct correlation between obesity or total calories and diabetes. On the contrast, a scientific study by the Stanford University showed that increased amount of sugar in the diet led to increased cases of diabetes in the country, and vice versa (Diabetes.co.uk 2013). Although this study shows that high sugar intake causes type 2 diabetes, this cannot prove this, since it employed data from whole populations. This study was dismissed as erroneous, since reliable studies showed that the sugar intake in UK had dropped by 6% yet the rate of obesity continues to increase (Diabetes.co.uk 2013). Therefore, this and other studies available to people are the source of misinformation of the people on the subject. According to Diabetes UK (2013), sugar use by diabetic people is not unhealthy, as long as it is taken in moderation. Naturally occurring fructose in fruits is recommended, while fructose used as a sweetener in foods is same as sucrose, therefore, should be taken in moderation, as this might cause diabetes if taken excessively (Bray et al 2004). This is contrary to the assumption propagated by various people that diabetic people should refrain from use of sugar (Diabetes UK 2013).
Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concept of public health and current public health policy
According to Linsley, Kane & Owen (2011), public health avails different opportunities to nurses to apply their practice. However, today, various elements in the healthcare practice of most healthcare professionals have changed. There is a new agenda for public health agenda today, which advocates for nurses to participate in more activities, which promote health and well-being of patients.
According to WHO (1986) cited in Davies & Macdowall (2006, p.7-8), health promotion is ‘The process of enabling people to increase control over the determinants of health and thereby improve their health.’ According to the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2013), apart from taking of the sick, the role of nurses extends to promoting the overall health of patients and disease prevention, helping them overcome obesity and eating disorders through teaching them how to eat healthy, and guiding smoking addicts through their cessation process. On the other hand, the Royal College of Nursing (2007) identifies other roles of nurses in public health as crisis prevention, offering medical help to the homeless and refugees, helping people in smoking cessation, among other helpful activities in the community. Therefore, this shows that nurses play a great role in health promotion.
Patient empowerment is another role, which nurses perform as part of their health promotion duty. This involves teaching patients about their health status, how to cope with it, and what to do in case of an emergency or complication. This form of empowerment makes patients to be self-reliant; therefore, they will not always need the nurses to be around them. This role played by nurses ensures that patients understand their medical condition, treatment, their risk factors, and aspects that might improve their outcomes (Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario 2013).
Nonetheless, there are various theories of health promotion which are crucial in the nursing practice, as they offer guidance to nurses on the how to make important decisions in their role of health promotion (Davies & Macdowall 2006). Most health promotion theories in nursing are developed from the field of sociology and psychology. One of the most commonly used theories is the “social cognitive theory.” According to Davies & Macdowall (2006), this theory is popular, since unlike others, this focuses on factors determining health behavior, and the change promoting strategies. Mainly, this explains the interaction between people, their environment, and their behavior (Davies & Macdowall 2006). Therefore, this might explain the effect of social norms on peoples’ behavior, therefore, offering an insight on how behavior of people can be influenced positively through health promotion interventions (Davies & Macdowall 2006). For instance, if the laws regarding smoking are modified to become more strict, this might promote the cessation of smoking among the targeted population.
The direction of healthcare today is quite unpredictable, considering the vast challenges that the healthcare sector is faced with. These include advancements in information technology, access to healthcare by patients, retention of skilled healthcare staff, legislation and reforms affecting healthcare, the ever rising costs of healthcare, harsh economy, changing patterns of disease, and high expectations of the public (Linsley, Kane & Owen 2011: Kulbok, Thatcher, Park, Meszaros 2012). This might mean that nurses should be ready for different future roles in their nursing practice (Nursing Times.net 2012). Nonetheless, these factors call for increased participation of nurses in health promotion in order to strengthen their practice and improve quality of public health, while boosting the new agenda of public health today.
Bray et al 2004, “Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a
role in the epidemic of obesity,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79:537–43,
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