One of health promotion’s many definitions is the process of enabling people to gain control of and to improve their overall health.
This process includes activities to sustain and increase personal wellbeing. Some of these activities to sustain wellbeing would be to not smoke, maintain fitness with exercising, and limiting exposure to radiation and toxic elements.
The purpose of health promotion in nursing practice is to enable populations to make healthy choices. Nurses help carry out promotion through the support of communities groups and organizations. Health promotion provides the ability to the population to be their own free agents through education to make personal healthy choices to improve health. Health promotion is a joint effort carried out by people, not forced upon people. Health promotion in nursing practice is used sometimes interchangeably with health education.
However, health education is focused mainly on the aim of trying to change the mindset of the individual’s attitudes and behaviors about health by providing information about health and disease or illness. Health promotion on the other hand, encompasses a broader spectrum and includes social and political interventions that could provide change to services and policies in the community and promotes social responsibility for health. Nursing roles and responsibilities have evolved in health promotion by allowing nurses to promote health in diverse settings.
Examples of these settings would be in homes, schools, and workplaces. The role of nursing and health promotion along with education once used to only take place in the hospital settings. The ability of the nurse to promote health in more diverse areas allows the nurse to educate and implement ways to possibly reduce health care expenses by working with policy makers, other health care providers, and managers just to name a few. Nurses are also able to:
1. Create public awareness of the many and always changing detriments to health and wellbeing. (Most common and easily changeable detriments to health are sedentary life style, stress, smoking, and alcohol abuse). 2. Lobby for safer working and living conditions.
3. Provide the public with information and educate how to provide self-care, when living with and coping with chronic illness and injuries at different stages of their lives. 4. Push for health services to needy populations on the community, such as the disabled, poor, elderly, and minority groups. 5. Build working relationships with other health profession associations, and community action groups that are led by youth, women, and others to align health services that are mainly focused on primary prevention and health promotion services.
Nurses in all areas of the field implement health promotion by education about how to protect themselves from illness and disease and by taking a proactive approach to decreasing the chances of obtaining a disease before it happens. Educating about health promotion is simply not only concerned with the handing out of or communication information.
Education also is concerned with fostering confidence, and motivational skills to enable people to take action necessary t9o improve one’s health. Health promotion education is a process that will help enable people to increase their control over, and to ultimately improve their quality of health over time. Health promotion and prevention include a range of “interventions”. These interventions associated with health promotion are primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention (Chapeskie et al., 2006, p. 1).
For the comparison of these interventions the example of skin cancer will be used. The two major factors that put a person at higher risk for melanoma is ultraviolet radiation exposure and a person’s individual characteristics may place them in a category for higher risk. An example of characteristics for higher risk would be Caucasians, fair hair and eye color, history of blistering sunburns, or previous skin cancers (Wiggs, 2007).
There are three levels of prevention when referring to health education/promotion. The first level of health prevention is primary prevention and it involves a proactive approach through education and health promotion. The goal is to decrease the risk of contracting a disease before it happens. With regards to skin cancer, examples of primary prevention would be wearing sunscreen of a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Reapply after swimming or sweating, generally every 2 hours. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen, (enough to fill a shot glass) for proper coverage (Wiggs, 2007, p. 5).
Sunscreen does not fully protect from the sun’s harmful rays. Other steps of protection should be taken to protect yourself. Wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeves, long pants, tightly woven material, and darker colors will help. Wearing a wide brim hat to cover the head, face, neck, ears, and shoulders is also another way to protect your skin. Avoiding the sun during its strongest time (10:00a.m. – 3:00p.m.) is also advised.
The second level of prevention is called secondary prevention, it entails identification of a disease or illnesses before any symptoms take place. The focus here is to move away from and move toward healthier behaviors. Encouraging screenings and testing for disease and illness is also a focus of secondary prevention. With regards to skin cancer, some secondary prevention would be skin and mole screenings, and rapid referrals by primary care providers to dermatologists when suspicious findings are present (Buchanan, 2001).
Lastly, the third level of prevention in health promotion/education is called tertiary prevention. Tertiary prevention involves efforts aiming at decreasing symptoms or the effects of the disease process by restoration of functions. At this time a disease has already been identified and treatment has begun. An example of tertiary prevention in skin cancer would be caring for the person with the disease. This involves care, treatment, and rehabilitation.
There are no curative treatments for advanced skin cancer (melanoma), and some fatalities still occur from metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. Tertiary care in this instance is concerned with holistic care, psychosocial support of the cancer patient in remission, during relapse, decline and death (Buchanan, 2001). Health promotion is a dynamic and ever-changing process that aims to help people gain and have control over their health. By tackling the multiple health detriments, education, and reducing numerous obstacles, nurses can make a difference in the health and wellbeing of people
ReferencesBuchanan, P. J. (2001). Skin Cancer. Nursing Standard, 15(45), 45-52, 54-55. Chapeskie, K. K., Cohen, M., Cumpston, M., Dickie, C., Mathur, R., & Michaels, E. (2006). Primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. At work, 43(43), 1. Wiggs, W. P. (2007). Playing it safe in the sun: Primary Prevention of Skin Cancer for Sun-Exposed athletes. Dermatology Nursing, 19(6) (ISSN 1060-3441), 5. Retrieved from http://ovidsp.ts.oviid.com.library.gcu.edu:2048