Community Nursing: Chronic Illness and Global Disaster
Chronic illnesses are on the increase worldwide. In the United States, the burdens of chronic diseases keep on growing every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (2016), 117 million people had chronic illnesses as of 2012. Additionally, CDC (2016) state that they are the leading causes of disability. Besides chronic diseases, disasters have caused various problems globally, leading to the loss of lives, businesses, and property. Most of the catastrophes happen when people are unaware, thus leading to long-term effects that warrant outside help. Therefore, the subjects of chronic illnesses and global disaster are significant to the healthcare system, particularly the nursing profession. This paper discusses why chronic diseases are on the rise in the United States, focuses on the difference between chronic illnesses and disability, and then examines the global disaster issue and its characteristics.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a chronic illness is a disease that lasts for three months or longer (as cited in National Health Council, 2014). Some conditions last for three months and heal. However, other illnesses, such as diabetes and cancer, extend for longer periods. The United States is experiencing a higher quantity of cases of chronic diseases due to an increase in the number of people who have poor nutritional habits, which contributes to obesity that predisposes people to chronic illnesses (Haynes-Maslow, 2013). Significantly, CDC (2016) ascertain that since most individuals in the United States do not perform any physical exercises, while others smoke tobacco and drink too much alcohol, it makes them more vulnerable to chronic illnesses.
Chronic diseases and disability are different entities. First, while having a chronic illness, one can carry out the activities of daily living. Conversely, with a disability, it is challenging to perform everyday duties. Secondly, having a chronic illness, one can take drugs and still maintain the major physiological functions of the body. For instance, the individuals who have hypertension can take medicines and keep their average blood pressure. Conversely, in case of disability, drugs do not solve the issue. For example, a blind person cannot see due to taking medications. Finally, the prevalence of disability remains low compared to chronic ailments. In the United States, 53 million adults are living with a disability compared to 117 million who have chronic illnesses (CDC, 2015).
Disasters happen regularly and globally. According to Guha-Sapir and Hoyois (2015), disasters are catastrophic occurrences that cause extensive injuries and loss of life and property, which lead to the need for help from the external communities. Some disasters are human-made while others occur naturally. For instance, terrorism is a human-made disaster while earthquakes and floods are the natural ones. For the catastrophes that are identifiable, such as diseases, community health nurses can help in preventing them in various ways, such as delivering health messages to communities on prevention strategies and helping in treating the diseases.
Following the discussion of the catastrophes, community health nurses can come up with a disaster plan. An effective plan has various characteristics. According to Sperry (2013), community members must necessarily contribute to the plan and it is supposed to include the responsibilities of each member of the community (Sperry, 2013). Additionally, the plan should be clear and understandable for all people. Moreover, it should be continuously reviewed if there are longer periods without a disaster or certain conditions change. Finally, the plan should be thoroughly tested and verified before implementation.
To conclude, from the analysis of the chronic illnesses and global disaster, it can be inferred that community health nurses need to take appropriate actions in terms of their management. In most cases, unhealthy lifestyle is the reason for many chronic diseases. Genetic conditions cause other chronic illnesses. Community health nurses are aware of these issues, and thus they need to deliver health messages to the public to help mitigate the conditions. Additionally, disaster poses various challenges to people leading to long-term problems. Community health nurses must also take the initiative of preparing the community to prevent various catastrophes before they happen or manage disasters through effectively planned measures when they occur.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ( 2015). People with disabilities: Who are they and what do we know?
Guha-Sapir, D., & Hoyois, P. (2015). Estimating populations affected by disasters: A review of methodological issues and research gaps. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Institute of Health and Society (IRSS), Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/7774UN%20Note%20on%20affected%20-%20Final%20version.pdf
Haynes-Maslow, L. (2013). A qualitative study of perceived barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income populations, North Carolina, 2011. Preventing chronic disease, 10. doi: https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2013/12_0206.htm
National Health Council. (2014). About chronic diseases. Retrieved from https://nationalhealthcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/NHC_Files/Pdf_Files/AboutChronicDisease.pdf
Sperry, P. (2013). Community participation in disaster planning and the expectation gap: Analysis and recommendations. Retrieved from https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=4294&context=etd