Alcohol dependency is often overlooked in older adults, especially women, whose symptoms often go undiagnosed by medical providers and caregivers. Nursing@USC Professor Dr. Benita Jeanne Walton-Moss — who has conducted research for her publication “Alcohol Use and the Older Woman” — says there is a profound need for health literacy surrounding alcohol dependency.
As the role of women in American society has evolved, so too have trends around cigarette and tobacco use. In the United States, even though female smoking is at a record low — roughly 14 percent of adult women are current smokers — smoking-related illnesses cause approximately 178,000 premature deaths among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The common narrative in schools and beyond is that students from a lower socioeconomic status are at greater risk for substance use, but this understanding ignores the complex determinants at play behind the scenes. School nurses and family nurse practitioners are in a unique position to educate families and students about these complexities, dispel myths about prescription drugs and increase health literacy in school communities.
Health literacy — the ability of people to obtain, process and understand basic health information and health care delivery systems to make appropriate decisions about their well-being — directly affects every person’s ability to live a healthy, productive life. Yet according to a report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), only 12 percent of American adults possess “proficient” health literacy, and 14 percent exhibit “below basic” health literacy.
With advanced education and extensive experience caring for patients and their families, family nurse practitioners are equipped to serve as advocates by providing a much-needed voice for patients, their communities, their profession, and perhaps just as important, themselves. Here are some examples of how nurses are serving as advocates on a variety of levels.
Popular perception holds that individual choices dictate a person’s weight: Those who eat well and prioritize fitness are healthy, and those who do not, are not. However, developing research on childhood obesity suggests that obesity levels are not caused by lifestyle choices — they are intimately linked to genetics and poverty rates.