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Health promotion and nursing values: scenario

Having explored the concept of health promotion and the role of the nurse as a health promoter, we consider in this section the importance of values in health promotion and look at some value conflicts and dilemmas that may be encountered when promoting health.

Health promotion is underpinned by principles that provide a compass or a conceptual framework that shapes health-promoting action. The WHO asserts that health is a fundamental human right and a major social goal (WHO 1978).

The principles that underpin the attainment of health as a human right and social goal are:

  • a focus on the determinants of health – the social, behavioural, economic, environmental conditions that influence health, ill health and health inequality
  • participatory and collaborative approaches – involving the whole population in the context of their lives and all sectors of society at all levels from national to local
  • multiple, complementary approaches from legislation and fiscal measures, organisational change and community development to education and communication

A source of reference for health promotion practice which assimilates the above principles are the WHO Global Health Promotion Conferences.

Principles can ultimately drive values and goals. Health promotion involves influencing the lives of individuals, communities and populations in order to improve health and wellbeing. This involves making decisions about what is meant by ‘better or good’ health and wellbeing and how this can be achieved or maintained. Such decisions reflect our values, which express our opinions and beliefs. Nurses need awareness of how their values not only influence their behaviour and impact on the delivery of care but also how they influence their health-promoting practice.

The professional values of nursing in England are known as the ‘6Cs’: ‘care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment’ (Commissioning Board Chief Nursing Officer and DH Chief Nursing Advisor 2012: 5). You may wish to add other values to the 6Cs that you believe are just as important and reflect the nature of what it means to you to be a nurse and a member of the nursing profession. For now, however, let us think about the relationship between nursing values and the values of health promotion and how your nursing values can be demonstrated through your role as a health promoter.

As a nurse it is important to be aware of your own values and how they influence your approach to promoting health and wellbeing.

Your task

Read the following scenario:

A 42-year-old man is transferred to your ward, from the coronary care unit, for rehabilitation following a minor myocardial infarction. As the admitting nurse on the ward you calculate his body mass index as 32.6 kg/m2, which means that he is overweight, and his blood pressure records steadily at 140/84. He says that he has been smoking around ten cigarettes a day since the age of 18 and admits to drinking in excess of the 14 recommended units of alcohol per week. He has a stressful job running his own computing business from home and, although he currently lives alone, socialises with his mates at the football most Saturdays.

  • How can you demonstrate your nursing values when promoting health within this situation?
  • How do you role model as a nurse and is this important?

Prepare a short professional briefing outlining the relationship between nursing and health promotion values that you could share in a team meeting with some colleagues in your area of practice.


Commissioning Board Chief Nursing Officer and DH Chief Nursing Advisor (2012) ‘Compassion in Practice: Nursing Midwifery and Care Staff. Our Vision and Strategy’. The NHS Constitution [online] available from https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/compassion-in-practice.pdf [19 June 2018]

WHO (1978) Declaration of Alma-Ata. ‘International Conference on Primary Health Care’. held 6-12 September 1978 in Alma-Ata, USSR. [online] available from http://www.who.int/publications/almaata_declaration_en.pdf?ua= [28 June 2018]

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This article is from the free online course:

Could You Be the Next Florence Nightingale?

Coventry University