As is the case with most language, the definition of “health” has evolved over time. Dictionary.com (2019) currently defines “Health” as “soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment”. In the early 19thcentury, it merely meant free from disease. At that time, due to a lack of clean drinking water, inadequate sewage and waste removal and general overall poor hygiene, infectious diseases were rampant. As people improved sanitation and vaccines became prevalent, the idea of health meaning only “disease free” began to change. When the World Health Organization (WHO) was formed in 1948 the word health began to tack on other factors, such as, physical, mental and spiritual well being (Falkner, 2018). If being healthy meant only that one was disease free, then the focus of health relies on seeking treatment only after disease occurs. If health expands its definition to include prevention of disease, chronic diseases can be decreased and people can begin living up to their full potential.
As health care workers, everything we do should be backed up by evidence-based practice (EBP). The definition of EBP, according to Falkner (2018) is “The integration of clinical expertise, the most up-to-date research, and patient’s preferences to formulate and implement best practices for patient care”. Nurses are patient advocates and need to be able to listen to the patient and apply our knowledge, expertise and experience to ensure the patient’s needs are being tended to. As an educator of patients and their families/caregivers, we need to be able to speak with authority, not only to what we are doing, but why. Assessing if the patient is ready willing and able to learn is a basic ingredient to not just saving lives but ensuring people lead their best lives (Falkner, 2018). A patient or caregiver who understands why we do things the way we do, is more likely to listen, learn and reproduce what is being taught.
Falkner, Angel. (2018). Health promotion: Health & wellness across the continuum. Retrieved from https://lc.gcumedia.com/nrs429vn/health-promotion-health-and-wellness-across-the-continuum/v1.1/
Dictionary.com, 2019, retrieved from: www.dictionary.com/browse/health.
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