The abdication of the role of health education by hospital nurses



As nurses are in a unique position to influence patients and so carry out health education to their‘captive audience’, it is pertinent to discuss why so many nurses appear to abdicate this role. Reasons are suggested that the nurses’own education has failed to equip her with the skills necessary for the fulfilment of this role. Even basic communication skills appear to be poorly developed, let alone the more complex and analytical skills required by the nurse in order to effectively deliver a planned programme of health education to either individual patients or groups. A Health Belief Model (HBM) has been discussed and is proposed as a useful framework around which the nurse can formulate her health teaching. Variables to be considered include motivation, value of illness threat reduction, probability that compliant behaviour will reduce the threat of illness, and modifying and enabling factors. The HBM should be incorporated into an individualized nursing care plan, so that health teaching is an integral part of the patient's planned care in hospital. The ward sister is the key figure in implementing such procedures, and it is to her that education should also be directed