Compare vulnerable populations. Describe an example of one of these groups in the United States or from another country. Explain why the population is designated as “vulnerable.” Include the number of individuals belonging to this group and the specific challenges or issues involved. Discuss why these populations are unable to advocate for themselves, the ethical issues that must be considered when working with these groups, and how nursing advocacy would be beneficial.
Vulnerable populations include patients who are racial or ethnic minorities, children, elderly, socioeconomically disadvantaged, underinsured or those with certain medical conditions. Members of vulnerable populations often have health conditions that are exacerbated by unnecessarily inadequate healthcare. (National Library of Medicine). Vulnerable populations include groups across the age spectrum. The elderly is, or may become, too old or sick to care for themselves. Older adults are often economically vulnerable because their cost of care can exceed their income. Chronic illness increases an older adult’s dependency and cost of living. The impairments caused by chronic illness and the need for long term care increases directly with age, they say for many the last 10 years of life are spent in illness. There are three main risk factors that contribute to vulnerability in older adults, health status, cognitive ability, and social network. According to the National Council on Aging, about 92 percent of seniors have at least one chronic disease and 77 percent have at least two. Heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes are among the most common and costly chronic health conditions causing two-thirds of deaths each year. With advance age by itself does not create vulnerability. However, it’s harder for the elderly to advocate due to certain problems that are common in old age, decrease strength, poor tolerance of physical activity, functional limitations, and decrease sensory awareness. The most frequent and most disturbing ethical issues reported by the nurses surveyed include, protecting patients’ rights and human dignity, providing care with possible risk to their own health, informed consent, staffing patterns that limited patient access to nursing care, the use of physical/chemical restraints. There are many reasons seniors might need patient advocacy, medical issues notwithstanding. Many elderly people are afraid or intimidated when trying to understand bills, talking to government officials regarding applications, or deciding their next step when overwhelmed with choices. It can be difficult for them to speak up for themselves when they’re unsure of what to say. And if you’ve been advocating for your senior on your own and are running into similar issues, that’s not uncommon either! If this accurately describes what you and your loved one are going through, it may be time to invest in professional patient advocacy. (Institute on Aging, 2014)
Institute on Aging, (December 10, 2014), https://blog.ioaging.org/aging/patient-advocacy-need-someone-go-bat-senior/
National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology information, (April 26, 2013), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23385323/
Senior First BC, Formerly known as BC Centre for elder advocacy and support, (2022), https://seniorsfirstbc.ca/for-professionals/vulnerability/#:~:text=Older%20adults%20are%20often%20economically,dependency%20and%20cost%20of%20living.
Hi Delnorisha, it is true that vulnerable populations include minority groups, economically underprivileged as well as people suffering from particular conditions. Healthcare support inadequacies lead to a higher predisposition of vulnerable communities to some diseases. Chronic diseases for instance, remain predominant among the old while allergic reactions such as eczema predominates among the younger populations (Aldridge et al., 2018). Economically underprivileged populations are more predisposed to opportunistic disease and diseases linked to nutrition. The inability to afford basic health care support as well as balanced diet is a risk factor to some diseases that may not be evident in economically privileged populations. Practicing nurses take charge of ensuring ethical practice, patient right advocacy care provision. A key challenge in the process of discharging these mandate include intimidation by organization management on patient billing issues as well as voicing patient concerns (Cole et al., 2018). Empathy and professional ethics require that standard procedures are followed when handling diverse populations, albeit with the sense of reason.
Aldridge, R. W., Story, A., Hwang, S. W., Nordentoft, M., Luchenski, S. A., Hartwell, G.,
Tweed, E. J., Lewer, D., Vittal Katikireddi, S., & Hayward, A. C. (2018). Morbidity and mortality in homeless individuals, prisoners, sex workers, and individuals with substance use disorders in high-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet (London, England), 391(10117), 241–250. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31869-X
Cole, M. B., Trivedi, A. N., Wright, B., & Carey, K. (2018). Health Insurance Coverage and
Access to Care for Community Health Center Patients: Evidence Following the Affordable Care Act. Journal of general internal medicine, 33(9), 1444–1446. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4499-2
According to American Journal of Managed Care, vulnerable populations comprises of the low income households, ethnic minorities, the uninsured, the elderly, the homeless, those with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and those with other chronic health conditions; including severe mental illness. It may also include rural residents, who often encounter barriers to accessing healthcare services. The vulnerability of these individuals is enhanced by race, ethnicity, age, sex, and factors such as income, insurance coverage (or lack thereof), and absence of a usual source of care. Their health and healthcare problems intersect with social factors, including housing, poverty, and inadequate education A vulnerable person is a person that is at risk of harm or abuse due to physical or mental health problems, financial problems, life events or lack of capability and confidence when dealing with finances.
One vulnerable population this article will talk about is children, they are considered as a vulnerable population with respect to their health because of their inability to advocate for their own interests and to protect themselves from harm. Children are not little adults. They have unique patterns of environmental exposure and developmentally determined susceptibilities that increase their risk of disease following toxic environmental exposure. Evidence is accumulating that children’s exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment is contributing to changing patterns of pediatric disease. Children, because of their vulnerability, suffer all kinds of neglect and abuse ranging from physical, medical, emotional, and sexual abuse. According to world health organizations, children are particularly vulnerable to poor health outcomes, especially in the case of natural disasters or other calamities. Michigan is one of the states in the US that provide basic health insurance coverage to children regardless of their eligibility for Medicaid
As a nurse, our role in advocating for little children can be quite challenging. These patients are unable to advocate for themselves because people in this age group are usually helpless. But being an advocate is so helpful because it allows the child to attain an improved level of care. The lack of providing our patients with preventative care can place them at an increased risk of health problems when they get old. At a time of great political uncertainty and societal upheaval, nurses can play the part of peacemaker, change agent and protector of human rights (Carlson, 2017).
Garrigues, L. J. (2020). Addressing health inequities in vulnerable populations through social justice. Integrative Health Nursing Interventions for Vulnerable Populations, 11-25. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-60043-3_2
Keith Carlson. (2017). Nurses and vulnerable populations: Ethics and social justice.
Hello Chidozie, it is true that the composition of vulnerable populations include people living with conditions such as HIV and chronic medical conditions, low income populations, elderly people, as well as homeless people. Gender, ethnicity race, religion and other factors fuel vulnerability as they affect availability of healthcare targeting the specific needs of these populations. Lack of insurance cover, vulnerability to physical harm and opportunistic disease together with malnutrition further aggravate the menace (Bracewell & Greenwood, 2021). Children are also considered as vulnerable population as they have not developed complete immunity over most diseases. Exposure of children to toxic environment may have detrimental effects including severe reactions. The need for specialized care for children also predisposes them to poor care as there lacks adequate special care for children. Children are also vulnerable to physical abuse and efforts by the United States government aim at ensuring insurance coverage for all children. Nurses have the role of child right advocacy and offering the best nursing care to children (Scott & Scott, 2021).
Bracewell, T. E., & Greenwood, L. M. (2021). Child Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations and
Prosecutorial Decisions to Accept or Reject Cases of Child Sexual Abuse. Journal of forensic nursing, 17(2), E10–E17. https://doi.org/10.1097/JFN.0000000000000328
Scott, S. M., & Scott, P. A. (2021). Nursing, advocacy and public policy. Nursing ethics, 28(5),
In comparison, vulnerable populations are less likely or incapable of protecting themselves to make informed and independent decisions. They are at a disadvantaged because of a personal trait or social status in result susceptible to negative outcomes. Common vulnerabilities are grouped into physical, psychological, and social risks in society. Mental health patients are a particularly vulnerable group. Schizophrenia and psychoses, depression, bipolar disorder, and developmental disorders to name a few are all examples of mental illnesses (who.int (n.d.). People who suffer from mental illnesses are more likely to be poor, have chronic health problems, belong to minority groups, and have lived through conflicts (who.int(n.d.). Social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental determinants are influenced by individuals’ contributing variables such as their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are unmanaged.
According to Mental Health Foundation, 2021 the numbers are high among people living with mental illnesses, 1 in 5 adults, 1 in 25 with serious mental illness, 50% of children before the age 14 with chronic mental illness and 75% by the age 24, and more than 10 million have more than 1 addiction or mental disorder above 18 years old. The availability of mental healthcare systems is diminishing around the world. The lack of funding of programs and institutions leave this population untreated properly. They continue to face barriers that cause challenges which include the lack of mental health treatment, shortage of mental health care workers, a diminish in resources and research, and facing negative stigma of mental illness. Th ethical issue of mental illness is the basic right to mental health care services and the mistreatment of researchers of mental health. Nurse advocacy is very beneficial because it allows the nurse to work on behalf of the patient to receive the resources needed for adequate mental health care and promoting autonomy by achieving a healthy state of mind. This allows the patient to focus on their well-being.
Mental health statistics 2021. Mental Health Foundation. (2021, September 16). Retrieved from https://mentalhealthfoundation.org/mental-health-statistics-2021/
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mental disorders. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders
Hello Sandra, I agree that vulnerable populations predispose individuals to poor healthcare. This results from inability to make informed decisions, inability to afford proper healthcare, lack of support to access proper healthcare among other factors. The vulnerable populations include children, the old, people with low income, and the homeless among others (Bonham & Kwasky, 2021). Some of the key challenges faced by the vulnerable population include inability to access proper health services, predisposition to diseases as a result of nutrient deficiency and toxic environment. Mental illness marks one of the key menaces in the vulnerable population that may lead to other medical conditions due to lack of proper healthcare support. Nurses have the role of patient advocacy for the vulnerable population (Marshall-Lee ET AL., 2019). This include advocacy for evidence based intervention for people living with mental illness, providing support to the affected families through education, proper diagnosis and administration of medicine to curb mental illness.
Bonham, E., & Kwasky, A. (2021). Caring for the Mental Health of Youth and Families: What is
the Role of the Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Nurse?. Clinical nurse specialist CNS, 35(5), 246–252. https://doi.org/10.1097/NUR.0000000000000620
Marshall-Lee, E. D., Hinger, C., Popovic, R., Miller Roberts, T. C., & Prempeh, L. (2019).
Social justice advocacy in mental health services: Consumer, community, training, and policy perspectives. Psychological services, 10.1037/ser0000349. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000349