Assignment: Benchmark – Human Experience Across the Health-Illness Continuum
The World Health Organization describes health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease. Health is determined by factors such as environment, education, genetics, and interpersonal relationships (GCU, 2018). This paper seeks to discuss the health-illness continuum and its relevance to patient care and describe a perspective of my current state of health with respect to the wellness spectrum.
The Health-Illness Continuum, proposed by Ryan and Travis, illustrates health and illness along a continuum. The continuum is a diagrammatic representation with high-level health and wellness at the extreme right and high levels of illness and poor health and premature death at the extreme left (Ali et al., 2018). The middle of the continuum is regarded as the neutral zone since there is neither health nor illness. High levels of wellness are achieved through three steps, which are awareness, education, and growth (Ali et al., 2018). Signs, symptoms, and disability manifest in the left direction that leads to premature death.
Nurses must consider the health-illness continuum when caring for patients to enable them to move along the continuum towards high health levels. For instance, when they understand that health is achieved when a patient is effectively managed, the nurse will strive to provide quality, comprehensive care (GCU, 2018). Besides, when nurses understand that poor health is caused by trauma and infections, they take interventions to promote patient safety (Svalastog et al., 2017). According to the continuum, persons moving towards high-level wellness are usually optimistic and have a positive view regardless of their existing health condition (Ali et al., 2018). On the other hand, persons in the left direction towards premature death are generally pessimistic and have negative perceptions of their health condition.
The health-illness continuum enables me as a nurse to promote the value and dignity of people and groups and to serve individuals in a manner that promotes human flourishing. The continuum has made me understand that an individual passes through various states of health and illness. These states range from good health and usually fluctuate to disability and death across the human lifespan (Svalastog et al., 2017). I have learned that health is a recurring change process, and individuals must constantly adapt to these changes to maintain good health and general well-being.
As a health provider, I will apply knowledge from the health-illness continuum to help individuals positively respond and adapt to changes in their health and well-being. For instance, I can help a patient diagnosed with a chronic disease function effectively by training them on the appropriate adaptation strategies and enabling them to flourish (Taylor, Lynn & Bartlett, 2018). High wellness levels can only be achieved when a patient’s mental and emotional aspects are incorporated into the treatment plan. Consequently, all health aspects must be included through holistic care to promote their general well-being (Taylor et al., 2018). I can uphold individuals’ values and dignity by supporting them psychologically, emotionally, and socially. Furthermore, the health education and promotion I provide to individuals, and the community should aim at empowering them to make informed health decisions and support them to flourish.
Reflection on Personal State of Health and the Health Illness Continuum
I would describe my state of health as unremarkable and moving towards the right side of the health-illness continuum. I have no physical or psychological symptoms and no history of a chronic illness. My BMI is currently at 22.8, which is within the normal weight range. There is a family history of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and colorectal cancer, which puts me at risk of developing similar conditions. Personal behaviors that support good health and well-being include taking three balanced meals a day with a variety of fruits and taking lots of water, more than the recommended eight glasses a day.
I attend annual health checkups and take advantage of free community screenings to have my blood pressure and blood sugar screened. I also ensure I have adequate rest with at least 6 hours of sleep a day and attend Yoga classes for my mental health. These personal behaviors make me move towards a high level of health and wellness on the right side of the continuum. Nevertheless, some behaviors detract me from achieving a high level of health, including lack of adequate physical exercises. My physical exercises entail mostly walking and swimming on weekends. I feel that these are not adequate exercises, and I need to increase the intensity and duration. Besides, I take alcohol about 3-4 beers about four days a week, which could put me at risk of hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Lack of adequate exercise and alcohol consumption detracts me from reaching high levels of health.
Resources Supporting Wellness
Resources that would significantly help me move toward wellness on the health-illness continuum include GCU’s Health and Wellness clinic. The GCU clinic provides top-notch healthcare services to its students and staff, including wellness promotion, TB skin tests, weight management, health education, and smoking cessation. Clients benefit from various wellness clinic services, including physical exams, treatment of illnesses, and holistic and individualized care. Therefore, I can benefit from the GCU wellness clinic services by having routine physical exams and screening services. I can also seek counseling on cessation of alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, and preventing chronic illnesses. Lastly, I can use the GCU library to access health articles on the prevention of diseases and achieving higher levels of health.
The health-illness continuum is a diagrammatic representation representing a high level of health and wellness on the right and poor health and premature death on the left. The continuum is important in patient care since health providers can understand that people move along the continuum from poor health toward health when they are successfully treated. On the other hand, they move along the continuum from good to poor health due to factors such as infection or trauma. The continuum can be used to promote human value, dignity, and flourishing by promoting the mental and social well-being of individuals and providing health education that empowers them to make informed health decisions.
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Ali, T., Hussain, M., Afzal, M., Khan, W. A., Hur, T., Amin, M. B., Kim, D., Kang, B. H., & Lee, S. (2018). Clinically harmonized wellness concepts model for health and wellness services. IEEE Access, 6, 26660-26674. https://doi.org/10.1109/ACCESS.2018.2834391
Grand Canyon University (Ed). (2018). Health assessment: Foundations for effective practice. Retrieved from https://lc.gcumedia.com/nrs434vn/health-assessment-foundations-for-effective-practice/v1.1/
Svalastog, A. L., Donev, D., Jahren Kristoffersen, N., & Gajović, S. (2017). Concepts and definitions of health and health-related values in the knowledge landscapes of the digital society. Croatian medical journal, 58(6), 431–435. https://doi.org/10.3325/cmj.2017.58.431
Taylor, C., Lynn, P., & Bartlett, J. (2018). Fundamentals of Nursing: The Art and Science of Person-Centered Care. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Describe the effect of extremely low birth weight babies on the family and community. Consider short-term and long-term impacts, socioeconomic implications, the need for ongoing care, and comorbidities associated with prematurity. Explain how disparities relative to ethnic and cultural groups may contribute to low birth weight babies. Identify one support service within your community to assist with preterm infants and their families and explain how the service adequately addresses the needs of the community, or a population in your community. Provide the link to the resource in your post.
Most extremely low birth weight infants are the youngest of premature newborns. They are usually born at 27 weeks gestational age or younger. Extremely low birth weight infants are born with less than 1,500g (James, Wood, Nair & Williams, 2018).
Effects of extremely low birth weight babies on family and community
It is estimated that about 40% of babies born with extremely low birth weight end up with different disease conditions. Examples of such disease are blindness in both eyes, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic disease that requires special medications and frequent hospitalization. Birth of low-birth-weight babies has economic and emotional cost to the families. In addition, public sector services such as health insurance services, educational and social support system are strained because of giving birth to low-birth-weight babies.
Short-term and long-term impacts of low birth weight
The short-term impact is that babies of low birth weight require life support in the neonatal care unit due to high readmission risk. This is because the babies usually have immature brains and are in respiratory distress thus, needing ventilators. The long-term impacts of giving birth to low birth babies includes poor health and growth, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, visual and hearing impairment. Premature babies have exhibits learning difficulties, high risk of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, socioemotional and behavioral problems.
How disparity in ethnic and cultural groups contribute to low birth weight
At a great risk of premature and extremely low birth weights are infants of minority groups, the marginalized and the poor. Example of disparities among minority populations is native Americans and African Americans to non-Hispanic white births. Infants born of mothers of low socioeconomic rank like African American are more likely to be born prematurely.
Identify one support within your community to support preterm infants and families
Healthcare providers can carry out a developmental screening using evidence-based tools at 9, 18 and 30 months. In addition, a general screening should be done every month. Monitor the milestones closely in preterm babies. Focus should be on hypertonia, reflexes, abnormal movement, and posture.
Healthcare workers and the general public can be educated on the effect of preterm delivery and extremely low birth weight as public health issue.
James, E., Wood, C. L., Nair, H., & Williams, T. C. (2018). Preterm Birth and The Timing of Puberty: A Systematic Review. BMC Pediatrics, 18(1), 1-12.
Replies to Stanley Ogbo
Hello Stanley, thank you for your submission. I agree that extremely low birth weight babies have developmental retardation in the short term, which causes learning disabilities in the long term. The child may need more time and attention, affecting the family function and even leading to financial constraints. People’s socioeconomic background, environment, and ethnicity affect their pregnancy because people from ethnic minorities may not have access to good health care and nutrition. Good nutrition during the early years helps the baby grow and develop well (Green, 2018). It is also essential to assist families with premature babies as nurses to locate resources and support groups to help them take care of low birth weight babies after discharge. what do you think about this?
Green, S. Z. (2018). Health assessment of the infant. In Grand Canyon University (Eds.), Dynamics in nursing: Art and science of professional practice. https://lc.gcumedia.com/nrs434vn/health-assessment-foundations-for-effective-practice/v1.1/#/chapter/1