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Vulnerable Populations Essay

2660 words - 11 pages

Stanhope and Lancaster (2008) define vulnerable populations as “those defined at a greater risk for poor health status and health care access”(p.712). The role of a public health nurse in contrast to a vulnerable population is to establish interventions to help break the cycle of vulnerability thus aiding to eliminate health disparities within the population. The term “risk” helps public health nurses establish a person probability of something happening to them. This epidemiological term is used with the triangle of host, agent and environment in contrast to ones health within a population. The author will discuss vulnerability as discovered within a community based on surveying the community and establishing risk and interventions on the intervention wheel and with concepts related to the human becoming school of thought in relation to poverty and alcoholism. The diagnosis that will be discussed throughout this paper is risk of alcoholism among the community of zip code 92509 related to poverty stressors.
In an assessment factors such as physical environment, social environment, personal habits are all obtained to help establish risks that a population may have in correlation to the history and factors that influence a person’s health status and outcome within a web of causation. A web of causation according to Stanhope and Lancaster (2008) is “an epidemiological triangle, reflecting the complex interrelationships of numerous factors interact in, to increase or decrease a risk of disease.” Public health nurses can use this web of causality as a tool to help assign risk factors that impact a community (p.711). One’s education level, living conditions, poverty level, genetic factors and access to health care can all be applied to the web of causation, vulnerable populations that can be applied to these factors are pregnant teens, homeless people, victims of abuse, substance abusers and people with communicable diseases. These vulnerable populations according to Shi and Stevens (2005) experience disparities in access to care and have poorer health status than the population as a whole.
Along with risks that these vulnerable populations are linked to, there are non-modifiable risk factors as well, called risk markers. These risk markers are characteristics that help I screening variables that mat be associated with poor health but not directly cause morbidity or mortality. An example of this can be race or sex. Healthy People 2010 has stated one if their goals includes the elimination of health disparities in the nation. They aim to overcome this by implementing state health initiatives that guide systematic approaches to help eliminate health disparities that disadvantaged and underserved populations face. Public health nurses, who work with vulnerable populations, can help with this mission by providing outreach, and assessing communities risk factors and exposures. For example, holding health fairs to increase the communities’ awareness of...

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