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Community nurses’ health promotion work with older people


  • Phyllis Runciman BSc MPhil MSc RN RM RHV RNT,

  • Hazel Watson MN PhD RGN RMN RNT,

  • Jean McIntosh BSc PhD RGN OBE FRCN,

  • Debbie Tolson BSc MSc PhD RN

Jean McIntosh,
School of Nursing,
Midwifery and Community Health,
Glasgow Caledonian University,
Cowcaddens Road,
Glasgow G4 0BA,
United Kingdom.


Aims.  This paper reports a study describing community nurses’ health promotion work with older people aged 50 years and above, and exploring particular health promotion initiatives for older people that would have transferability potential.

Background.  With the ageing of populations worldwide, community nurses in primary healthcare settings have a key contribution to make to the health improvement agenda for older people, yet little is known of the extent of this aspect of their work.

Methods.  Questionnaires were sent to 1062 community nurses in six Scottish National Health Service Boards – public health nurses/health visitors, district nurses, general practice nurses, community psychiatric and learning disability nurses and combined duty nurses; 373 (35%) responded, 30 of whom were interviewed by telephone. The data were collected in 2003–2004.

Findings.  Findings confirmed the wide scope of health promotion, much of which may be embedded and unrecognized. Creative group work showed promise in achieving heath gain for older people, and a range of partnership approaches – interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and interagency – was evident. Theoretical input and project opportunities within educational programmes had been a catalyst for health promotion initiatives in practice. However, evidence of audit, evaluation, and active involvement of older people in planning health promotion was limited. Funding of health promotion initiatives was vital to sustainability.

Conclusion.  There is merit in making the health promotion work of community nurses more visible through audit and systematic evaluation; promoting the active involvement of older people; strengthening partnership working; and further raising the profile of health in later life within undergraduate and postgraduate community nursing programmes.