Report by World Health Organization, UCLA School of Nursing shows nursing, midwifery can have major impact on lifestyles changes, health outcomes
Nurses and midwives can play a critical role in lessening people's risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes, according to a groundbreaking new report issued by the World Health Organization and co-authored by a UCLA nursing professor.
These four non-communicable disease types account for a combined 60 percent of all deaths worldwide.
"The global burden of non-communicable diseases is already high and continues to grow in all regions of the world," said Linda Sarna, a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and co-author of the report. "Nurses and midwives have the expertise to help individuals and communities improve health outcomes."
Sarna points out that since nurses and midwives make up more than 50 percent of all health care providers in most countries, they are the logical candidates to affect lifestyle changes among patients and increase health awareness. Worldwide, there are more than 19 million nurses and midwives, she said.
The 38-page report issued by the WHO highlights evidence-based, value-added nursing interventions that have been shown to reduce such risk factors as tobacco use, alcohol dependence, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets.
"The examples contained in the report are proven activities that nurses can start doing today to make a meaningful impact with their patients and in their community," Sarna said. "Many of the interventions have been proven to reduce costs and improve the quality of care."
Sarna notes that tobacco control has been one of the biggest areas of missed opportunity. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and worldwide and is the one risk factor that cuts across all four of the non-communicable disease categories. Nursing intervention studies support the idea that nurses can play a major role in helping smokers quit.