Health disparities are differences in health outcomes that exist between different people. We can see these disparities in access to healthcare, quality of care, and overall health outcomes. Nurses play an essential role in addressing these disparities. They can help to reduce the gap between those with access to quality healthcare and those without by providing patient-centered care and advocating for their patients.
How Can Nurses Help Address Health Disparities?
Nurses have become increasingly aware of the relationship between social determinants and health outcomes. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines social determinants of health as defined by the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age, including the health system’s broader societal and structural factors.
Nurses should consider the following social determinants when providing patient-centered care and advocating for their needs.
Housing is a critical social determinant of health that can significantly impact patients’ health outcomes. Nursing assessment should include the patient’s housing status, including understanding their living conditions and potential housing challenges. Nurses can work with social workers and community organizations to assist patients in finding affordable and safe housing.
Low educational attainment is associated with poor health outcomes, including chronic diseases and mental health issues. Nurses should encourage and support their patients’ education by referring them to the educational resources available within the community. Education on healthy living and disease self-management can also improve patient outcomes.
Unemployment and job insecurity can negatively impact health because of income loss and stress. Nurses should consider their patient’s employment status when developing a care plan. They can provide resources for job training and employment help to help patients secure a steady income and reduce stress levels.
Access to Healthcare
Access to healthcare is a critical social determinant of health that can impact a patient’s ability to receive quality care. Nurses must advocate for their patients to ensure they have access to necessary medical services. Nurses can provide information on resources, such as community health clinics, insurance coverage, and government programs that help improve access to healthcare.
Culturally Competent Care
Culturally competent care is essential to promoting health equity. Nurses should understand and respect their patient’s cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and practices. Nurses need to offer language assistance and use professional interpreters to overcome language barriers. Culturally competent care can reduce health disparities and improve patient outcomes.
Addressing social determinants of health is crucial to improving health equity and reducing health disparities. Nurses can promote health and advocate for healthier communities by understanding and addressing these determinants. Along with providing patient-centered care, nurses should consider the social determinants of health when creating individualized care plans for their patients.
Strategies and Interventions
When promoting health equity, nurses have an array of strategies and interventions they can use to mitigate health disparities. These include:
- Conducting screenings and assessments.
- Creating individualized care plans informed by social needs.
- Referring patients to community resources.
- Educating patients on preventive measures.
- Engaging in community outreach activities.
- Advocating for local, state, or national policy change.
Increasing workplace diversity among nurses can address health disparities and foster an inclusive environment that listens to and respects all voices.
Make a Difference with Actriv Healthcare
At Actriv Healthcare, everyone deserves quality healthcare regardless of race or socioeconomic status. We strive to make a difference by connecting nurses with opportunities that allow them to impact their patients’ lives while advancing their careers.