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34.1 Social Planning and Policy Change

The term policy most commonly refers to a formal or informal rule, law, or plan of action followed by a group, organization, or government. A family living in poverty may not have adequate food, housing, or access to services, which could be a root cause of their health problems and contributes to the continuation of the cycle of poverty.

34.2 Why Are Nurses Key Players in Health Policy?

Understanding how policies affect their practice prepares nurses to address issues in the communities in which they live and work and to improve health outcomes. Each nurse has the power to use their individual voice to influence local health policy, and collective action by nursing organizations has the power to change national policy.

34.3 Policy Development

Health policies are developed through a flexible process that encompasses issue identification, policy instrument development, consultation, coordination, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation. The CDC’s Policy Analytical Framework consists of the first three segments of the policy process: problem identification, policy analysis, and strategy and policy development. Policy evaluation is the examination of a policy’s implementation, performance, and impact on the intended target.

34.4 Advancing Health Care Policies

Using evidence-based policies helps to ensure that interventions are safe and effective, reach the intended population, and use the resources available. HiAP is based on the understanding that long-standing health problems such as chronic illness, drug misuse, and spiraling health care costs are highly complex and often linked. When nurses implement and defend policies that use population health data, it is a method of advocacy.

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