How Psychological and Sociological Insights Help Nurses to Understand Health Lifestyles

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, This essay will address how psychological and sociological insights help nurses to understand health lifestyles by exploring life sciences, focusing on people who engage in smoking and how they seem to override the fact that they are putting their health at risk. In addition to this I will also be highlighting statistics and briefly discussing the health complications that develop from smoking. Consequently, it is important for nurses to understand how people function, more so when they are healthy so we know how to help when a health problem arises. Functioning as a person involves social and psychological aspects, as well as having functioning body systems. Over the decades there have been many different explanations on how people function, this essay will discuss psychological and sociological ideas that will give nurses an understanding of people’s behaviour, thoughts, feelings and lifestyles. For this purpose, this essay will be reflecting on the psychological perspectives of social learning theory, unrealistic optimism and the health model locus of health. Secondly, it shall be discussing the sociological perspectives of socio-class and low-incomes and socialisation to discover why people may start to smoke and why people continue to smoke knowing the risks involved. Ironically, as recent as the 1940’s smoking was considered harmless and the overall attitude of people was that smoking relieved tension but research has since confirmed that smoking causes many diseases detrimental to one’s health such as cancer, cardiovascular and lung diseases. Smoking is a greater cause of death and disability than any single disease, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). According to WHO, smoking is responsible for approximately five million deaths worldwide every year (WHO, 2012). Presently, in the United Kingdom smoking is the leading cause of death with 120,000 people dying annually due to smoking related diseases and costs the National Health Service (NHS) the sum of £2.7 billion to provide health care for people with smoking related illnesses (Department of Health, 1998). Even so, people still continue to engage in this life threatening behaviour despite knowing the dangers and risks that it involves. Therefore, as nurses we need to consider how addictive smoking is to some individuals (Rana, Upton. 2009) this can influence the health choices people make. Health psychologists attempt to predict how people make choices about their lifestyles. According to Albert Bandura’s theory (1965,1991) on social learning suggested that learning can occur not only by association, reward and habitation but also by observing others behaviour and by imitating it and does not require the individual to be actively involved in the learning process (Barker, 2007) this is referred to as vicarious learning through modelling. The social learning perspective implies that smoking behaviour is learned by modelling and social influences (Rana, Upton, 2009). Statistically, most smokers start smoking as teenagers (Payne, Walker 1996) and children are more likely to smoke if their parents smoke and their parent’s attitude to smoking is an important factor (Action on Smoking and health, 2011).Valente et al (2005) suggests that one of the main reasons for adolescents to start to smoke is the influence of peers and siblings and parents generally become less influential ( Rana, Upton, 2009). Therefore leads us on to social influence, this refers to the way in which people’s behaviour is influenced by the presence and actions of others (Cialdini, 2004). Despite knowing the health risks of smoking, young people still conform to engage in smoking as the number of young people who smoke remains the same (ASH, 2012). Some will manage to quit but a good percentage will endure to smoke for decades, this increases the risk substantially in developing illness and early death (Department of Health, 1998) even though 7 out of 10 adults say that they would like...
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