NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 9

NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 9

NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 9

“Social justice is a matter of life and death. It affects the way people live, their consequent chance of illness, and their risk of premature death. We watch in wonder as life expectancy and good health continue to increase in parts of the world and in alarm as they fail to improve in others. “—World Health Organization

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Inherent in discussions about social justice are the concepts of health disparities, inequalities, and inequities. Have you heard these terms? For the purpose of this week’s Discussion, it’s important that we all have a shared understanding of these concepts which are of fundamental importance to public health nurses.

Healthy People 2020 defines a health disparity as a “particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage.” Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion, socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identify; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.

Health inequalities can be defined as differences in health status or in the distribution of health determinants between different population groups. For example, differences in mobility between elderly people and younger populations or differences in mortality rates between people from different social classes. It is important to distinguish between inequality in health and inequity. Some health inequalities are attributable to biological variations or free choice and others are attributable to the external environment and conditions mainly outside the control of the individuals concerned. In the first case, it may be impossible or ethically or ideologically unacceptable to change the health determinants and so the health inequalities are unavoidable. In the second, the uneven distribution may be unnecessary and avoidable as well as unjust and unfair, so that the resulting health inequalities also lead to inequity in health.

One common goal shared by all public health professionals is the attainment of the highest level of health for all people—a concept known as health equity. Achieving health equity requires us to value each person equally, with focused efforts toward elimination of health inequities where they are identified. Public health nurses play a significant role in pursuing health equity within their own community, as well as contributing efforts toward national and global efforts.

Learning Objectives – NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 9

Students will:
  • Analyze state health indicators
  • Analyze the relationship between health indicators and public health nursing practice

Discussion: Health Indicators and Health Disparities

Public health nurses play an important role in addressing the health needs identified during the assessment process. Only by close examination of health data can health professionals identify health disparities and take steps to address them. Numerous sources of community-level health data are available to guide public health nurses as they partner with communities in the pursuit of health for all. It is vital that all public health professionals have an understanding of the health status of their city, county, region, state, and nation, as well as global health issues of concern. This week, you will analyze health indicators for your own community, identify potential health disparities seen in your own area, and then compare your findings with your classmates from across other localities.

For this Discussion, you will examine multiple localities to identify health disparities within and across states for a given health indicator.

To Prepare:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Take the Health Equity Quiz found on the Unnatural Causes website.
  • Research health indicators (outcomes) for your state, city, and/or county.
  • Research a state other than your own that is similar demographically with higher health indicators.

By Day 3

Post a health indicator for which your state ranks high and explain why you think your state ranks high on this indicator. Then, identify a health indicator for which your state ranks low and explain why you think your state ranks low on this indicator.

Compare your findings to a state that is similar to yours demographically but has higher indicators. Explain why you think this state is achieving higher health indicators than yours.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues by comparing your state to your colleagues’ states, offering insights on your findings. Then, explain what this information might mean in regard to current and future public health nursing practice. NURS 6710: Public Health Nursing Theory and Practice | Week 9

 

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