Modification of the way health services are delivered, towards the prevention of illness and disease, rather than focusing on treatments will enable the National Health Service to use its resources better, healthier people equals fewer demands on an already stretched service. Better health is vital for quality of life, not just additional life years (DOH, 1999). Nurses have a major part to play in health promotion as they are the health care professionals most involved with individuals and communities at all levels of health promotion.
This assignment will define health promotion and discuss this in relation to sexual health it will consider how the nurse delivers health promotion at primary, secondary and tertiary level surrounding sexual health issues. The assignment will then go on to demonstrate how national policies influence the delivery of care, demonstrate some of the barriers to health promotion and explore ways of how these may be overcome. Health promotion can be defined as ‘the art and science of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health. Optimal health is defined as a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual health. Lifestyle change can be facilitated through a combination of efforts to enhance awareness, change behaviour and create environments that support good health practices. Of the three, supportive environments will probably have the greatest impact in producing lasting change.’ (O’Donnell 2009).
The Department of Health (2001) suggest that the following statement defines health promotion in relation to sexual health, ‘sexual health promoting activities consist of any action which proactively and positively supports the sexual health and emotional well-being of individuals, groups and communities, reduces the rates of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy, reduces psychosexual problems and facilitates fulfilling and pleasurable relationships’. The government has been attempting to improve the nation’s sexual health for many years as the rate of sexually transmitted diseases continues to grow. The cost of treating sexually transmitted infections, not including HIV to the National Health Service is over £1 billion (IAG, 2004). The Department of Health released their publication ‘the national strategy for sexual health and HIV’ in 2001 with the main aims of the strategy being to reduce the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, reduce the incidence of undiagnosed HIV and sexually transmitted infection, and reduce the stigma associated with HIV and sexually transmitted infections (DOH, 2001). Figures released by the Health Protection Agency in 2010 show that almost half a million people were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the United Kingdom during 2009, most of these being young adults aged between 16 and 24 (HPA, 2010). Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted infection, it is easy to cure with antibiotics but if left untreated it can lead to problems with fertility and disease in later life (McLean & Keane 2000). However in most cases around 70% of women and up to 50% of men are found to be asymptomatic, many may go undiagnosed (Gleave 2002).
To successfully promote health and change behaviours the nurse will need to be aware of what stage the individual is at so they can decide which approach will work best. Prochaska and Diclemente (1984) suggest that individuals pass through four stages when attempting to change behaviours, these are; pre contemplation, the individual is unaware of any risks associated with their health behaviour, in relation to sexual health thinking that they have only had one sexual partner therefore are not at risk. Contemplation, the individual may be looking at information and getting help to make a decision, a media message or poster surrounding sexually transmitted infection may trigger this, action,...
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