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10.1 Factors That Influence Health Practices

Nurses are well-positioned to explore the health of clients and communities and to provide meaningful intervention across levels. Nurses need a thorough understanding of health behavior and the factors that may be supportive of or detrimental to health. Individual client behaviors can greatly influence health, but a person’s participation in a healthy lifestyle or motivation to adopt a health habit are not simply a function of wanting or not wanting to be well. Genetics, individual and collective behaviors, environmental and physical influences, medical care, and social determinants influence the health of an individual and community. Further, these factors can impact each other. The ever-changing nature and dynamic relations among these factors make the experience, processes, and outcomes associated with health highly complex.

10.2 Theories and Models of Health Behavior

Nurses may apply theories of health behavior to address the health needs of clients and communities in a thorough and systematic way. Models and theories relevant to the study and change of health behavior include the Social Cognitive Theory, Theory of Planned Behavior, Health Belief Model, Transtheoretical Model/Stages of Change, and Pender’s Theory of Health Promotion. These allow nurses to explore and recommend interventions to meet the unique needs or circumstances of clients and communities. Nurses can use theories to promote health, prevent disease, and facilitate well-being across populations.

10.3 Core Principles of the Socio-Ecological Model

Clients and communities are unique, dynamic, complex, and constantly evolving. As such, nurses, researchers, educators, and policymakers must analyze and address the health of clients and communities with a broad lens that considers the interaction of many factors. SEMS have been used in health, education, and other disciplines as a guiding framework to evaluate, identify, and improve health and the human experience globally. SEMs provide a way for nurses, clinicians, and others to perform thorough health assessments, identify barriers and facilitators of health, and plan for interventions that can support health across personal, community, and system-wide levels. SEMs can help describe and organize the complex interplay between clients and their environments and specific contextual factors. SEM facilitates a more holistic understanding of health problems and promotes sustainable and effective interventions for supporting population health.

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