All over the news and in the media we are showed our country is in a serious health crisis. There has been government controversy and vast debate regarding our current healthcare. According to a Prevention Status Report by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, alcohol-related harms, heart disease, stroke, HIV, obesity, motor vehicle injury, and tobacco use are among the 10 most important public health problems and concerns (CDC, March 2016). If we take a look at this list, all of these problems can be prevented if people were to modify their lifestyles.
Often than not, the patients we take care of present with many of the problems listed above. The nurse not only serves as the patient advocator but also as an educator. By using the Health Belief Model we can predict and explain health behaviors. This model is based on what the patient thinks about the severity of their illness, their risk factors to that illness, benefits of getting treatment, and taking action to treat illness.
Our first encounter with a patient involves trying to get a medical history and a focus assessment. We assess how much they know about their current illness and use it as a foundation. Patients need to be aware that their illness will progress and potentially worsen if not treated. The majority of the patients I have provided care for say the same thing, “If only I would have gotten treatment earlier.“ Treatment involves not only procedures and medications, changing the way they live their lives is an important factor that needs to be emphasized.
As the conversation progresses we are able to identify risk factors and with collaboration we can come up with ways to modify them, and potentially eliminate them. Focus should not only be on one risky behavior, rather encouraging a wellness program that targets lifestyle changes for overall health. Patients need to be involved in their care in order to feel empowered. This will motivate them to take action into their own hands to improve their health (Morris & Tanner, 2014).