Health Promotion in Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Care Nursing Monica V. Poehner

Health Promotion in Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Care Nursing Monica V. Poehner
Grand Canyon University: Family Centered Health Promotion
November 10, 2013

Health Promotion in Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Care Nursing

Among the many aspects of nursing care, health promotion as become one of the largest and most important. As health and illness has evolved, the need for education and prevention has greatly increased. Standing at the forefront in multiple settings, nurses are striving to promote health in every aspect of care. This is a review and reflection of the purpose and definition of health promotion as well as how nursing plays its part in the primary, secondary, and tertiary care settings.

The three levels of care settings can reflect similarities and differences in methods of health promotion. In primary prevention, the focus is protection from illness. Examples of interventions in this category are health education, adequate housing and recreation, agreeable working conditions, periodic check-ups and screenings, and protection from accidents, carcinogens and allergens (Edelman & Mandle, 2010). A bicycle safety course encouraging parents to enforce the use of protective equipment and helmets with their children is primary prevention. By wearing protective gear, if a child falls of his bicycle, he is less likely to be injured. Although goals in primary prevention are targeted towards individuals, healthcare leaders are taking the approach in bringing promotion into larger groups: schools, workplaces, prisons, and general practice (Bennett, Perry, & Lawrence, 2009). “Secondary prevention aims to shorten episodes of illness and prevent progression of ill health through prompt diagnosis and care” (Bennett, Perry, & Lawrence, 2009). Immunizations and blood pressure screenings are examples of secondary prevention. Kubik, Story, & Davey discuss a study promoting the implementation of school-based obesity prevention efforts (2007). Tertiary prevention refers to rehabilitation and restoration of health. Making lifestyles changes status post myocardial infarction to improve longevity and quality of life without further complications is an example of tertiary care.

Health promotion can be described a various number of ways by multiple authors. Edelman and Mandle state that it is, “the science and art of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health.” In more definitive terms they describe it as advocating health to increase the chances that the population as a whole will support positive health practices as a regular standard (2010). Nurses in a study discussed by Piper portrayed health promotion as disease prevention and management, encouragement of patient participation in care, education, and advice regarding healthy behaviors (2008). Promoting health must be appealing and inspiring as it requires effort for patients to maintain, especially for those requiring radical life changes. It is within a nurse’s role to utilize creativity and all resources necessary to instill health upon today’s complex clients.

Nurse’s roles in health promotion have become more important than ever. The nurse has the ability to influence a client in every level of prevention; whether it be protection from illness, administering health screenings, or rehabilitating from an already acquired illness. Getting out into the community to educate and influence the public will contribute to the success of health promotion and prevention. As the complexity of human illness continues to increase, the need for prevention will also grow. Nurses can organize free educational courses discussing smoking cessation, or the predisposing factors for coronary artery disease or strokes. Hosting screenings frequently throughout the year in one’s community or immunization fairs is a great way nurses can take initiative in health promotion. In the hospital setting, nurses must make an effort to thoroughly assess the learning styles of their patients and implement education throughout their stay, evaluating effectiveness for the best patient outcome.

Nurses in all areas can have an influential role on health promotion on every level of prevention. Continued education for nurses is important to stay current on new techniques being implemented in the healthcare setting.

The more nurses can teach their patients and the community about preventing illness or recovering from one, a healthier population will result.

Bennett, C., Perry, J., & Lawrence, Z. (2009). Promoting health in primary care. Nursing Standard, 23(47), 48-56. Retrieved from Edelman, C., & Mandle, C. (2010). Health promotion throughout the lifespan. (7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier. Retrieved from Kubik, M., Story, M., & Davey, C. (2007). Obesity prevention in schools: Current role and future practice of school nurses. Preventive Medicine, 44(6), 504-507. doi: Piper, S. (2008). A qualitative study exploring the relationship between nursing and health promotion language, theory and practice. Nurse Education Today, 28(2), 186-193. doi:

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