Health Promotion Vulnerable Population Essay
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Health Promotion Vulnerable Population Essay
Homeless adolescents and young adults are part of a vulnerable population. Per the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL) website, there are over 4 million adolescents and young adults, ages 13 to 25 years old, that experience homelessness each year. Also, around 700,000 are alone and homeless without a family or guardian.
Of these homeless adolescents and youths, higher risk groups include Hispanics, blacks, and the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer/Questioning) community. Not completing high school or the General Educational Development (GED) certification increases the risk of becoming homeless in this age range.
Also, adolescents that are homeless during school age have a high risk of having many disruptions in their education (“Youth Homelessness Overview,” 2019). The purpose of this discussion is to assess the homeless adolescents and young adult population and how this group’s health is affected by low literacy.
As a future Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, the discussion on how to improve this population’s health literacy will also be addressed.
Having disruptions in education, not completing high school or not receiving a GED, leaves this adolescent and young adult vulnerable population at risk for not being able to read, understand, or prioritize how to maintain a good level of health. In a study by Woan et al. (2013), these authors state “adolescence is a critical period of development, during which many of the health-related behaviors that will affect young people both in the present and into adulthood are initiated.”
If these adolescents are not receiving the education and are not witnessing healthy habits to sustain a healthy lifestyle, their risks of poor health are increased. Woan et al. (2013) also included that one reason for this vulnerable population’s homelessness was due to family conflict.
These adolescents and young adult homeless populations experienced parental drug use, physical abuse and neglect, or a change in their family’s structure resulting in abandonment. These experiences do not put emphasis on health, health education, or healthy living habits.
This leaves this population without the motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle. This leaves this population at an increased risk to engage in risky unhealthy related behaviors (Woan et al., 2013).
In a study by Podschun (1993), this vulnerable population and HIV prevention was researched. This author assessed this vulnerable population’s risky behaviors and their low literacy skills. Podschun (1993) reviewed multiple studies that confirmed this vulnerable population engaged in HIV risky behaviors such as needle sharing, decreased condom use, and multiple sexual partners.
Risky behaviors accompanied by limited available access to health care due to cost, feeling judged, having a lack of trust with providers, and not having time off from work to seek care does not set this population up for health promotion (Woan et al., 2013).
The health related education materials that are available in clinics, doctor’s offices, or online might only be geared towards a population with a certain amount of education. This leaves this group with low literacy skills even more uneducated and not health literate.
As future Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, one goal will be to improve this population’s health literacy. As De Chesnay and Anderson (2020) state, students with low resources and settings that include social and health inequalities can provoke anger, sadness, and withdrawal.
As an APRN, the aim of our education must include sensitivity to this population’s culture. Podschun’s (1993) study geared education in a “Teen Peer Outreach-Street Work Project.” The program included teen homeless educators which provided a sense of cultural respect.
The students and the educators shared a common culture and the educators knew how the students felt (Podschun, 1993). The students were assessed and teaching materials were decided on based on their literacy skills. Due to a high rate of low literacy skills, the program used HIV learning materials with “high-impact coloration, photographs, and symbols” (Podschun, 1993).
Woan et al. (2013) recommended a program for this vulnerable population that included shelters with primary prevention and interventions with regards to STIs, mental health and substance abuse. Peer support groups with educational discussions were recommended, as well as getting youth involved with their community, to create a sense of belonging.
As an APRN, there is a fine line of alerting the vulnerable population that they have social and health injustices, while not making them feel weak or inferior. Setting them up with peers that can mentor effectively and increase their resilience is one way to increase the adolescent and young adult homeless vulnerable populations’ health literacy and ultimately their health promotion.
Reflecting on their health choices and increasing this population’s ability to share their life stories will bring the person closer to a transformation. It is also important for the APRN to become health literate conscious. Taking one of the CDC’s health literacy courses will provide the APRN with the skills to productively teach a vulnerable population how to be healthier (De Chesnay & Anderson, 2020).
The homeless adolescents and young adult vulnerable population deserve health education and care to improve their health promotion and disease prevention. Increasing their health literacy, increasing the resources available to them, and implementing peer support groups are some ways to improve their health promotion. Including cultural respect, sensitivity, as well as being an APRN that is culturally competent, will create the most optimal health care for these vulnerable populations.
Chesnay, M. D., & Anderson, B. A. (2020). Caring for the vulnerable: Perspectives in nursing theory, practice, and research. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Podschun, G. (1993). Teen Peer Outreach-Street Work Project: HIV prevention education for runaway and homeless youth. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1403354/pdf/pubhealthrep00068-000
Woan, J., Lin, J., & Auerswald, C. (2013). The Health Status of Street Children and Youth in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(3). doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.03.013
Youth Homelessness Overview. (2019, June 18). Retrieved May 17, 2020, from https://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/homeless-and-runaway-youth.aspx
Einarsen, S. (2011). Bullying and harassment in the workplace: developments in theory, research, and practice. Crc Press. Smart, J. Y. (2017). Get Smart: Bullying behavior is a social justice issue. Savannah Morning News. https://www.savannahnow.com/accent/column/2017-05-01/get-smart-bullying-behavior-social-justice-issue