As described by Maurer and Smith, vulnerability can be characteristics, traits, or experiences that can increase a persons’ vulnerability to develop health related problems and have less access to care therefore likely leading to poor outcomes (Maurer & Smith, 2013). As Maurer and Smith state, a person or group will ultimately be more vulnerable with increasing amounts of risk factors (Maurer & Smith, 2013). For example, genetics can play a role in high blood pressure and heart disease however, just as important, the people within the family most likely share commonalities like food consumption, activities, and various other lifestyle choices that may contribute to hypertension (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). The family with a genetic predisposition to hypertension is at risk. How each person in the family lives (diet, exercise, non-smoker) determines their vulnerabilities.
Members of the at-risk group I have mentioned may not be able to advocate for themselves due to lack of education. Culture and traditions play a large part in food, diet, and exercise. Letting go of traditions and changing what makes a person a part of their family can be difficult. As a nurse leader, I would advocate for the entire family/group by educating them on the risks and attempt to make them less vulnerable to the ill effects that can contribute to hypertension. As mentioned in our readings, I would utilize the critical theory teaching the members of the at-risk group about hypertension and encouraging dialogue that would lead to education and hopefully change.
Another example that came to mind has to deal with low income families. For example, many people will ask for a prescription for Tylenol or Motrin because their insurance (Medicaid) will pay for it. Many times, I had wondered why they would want a prescription for it when they can just buy it for a few dollars. I soon realized that some people cannot afford it. Lack of income/money can put people in more vulnerable positions adding to their burdens and stress potentially worsening their health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014). High Blood Pressure. Family history and other characteristics that increase risk for high blood pressure. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/family_history.htm