Skip main navigation

Introduction – what do we mean by vulnerable?

This article introduces what is meant by vulnerable, setting the scene for the rest of the course.
Introduction What Do We Mean By Vulnerable

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “vulnerability” as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” This is a term commonly used in healthcare but not consistently defined.

Vulnerability appears to be, but is not limited to, a gap between a patient’s needs and the means intended to meet them suggesting structures provided by healthcare systems are not as differentiated as they should be to cover all situations. Most often, vulnerability is not due to a single factor but appears under circumstances when there is a clash between a patient and the care provided.

This encompasses a wide variety of patient populations; this course focuses on those patients who are often socially excluded and struggle to access healthcare through traditional pathways. In this course, we will look at cases and examples from services that care for people who inject drugs (PWID), people who experience homelessness, individuals within care-homes and migrant patients.

Every patient deserves healthcare that understands and respects them. This course looks at patients for whom it can be difficult to access healthcare and how you can tailor healthcare practice to be inclusive.

The next step will expand and discuss some of the social determinants of health and how this can lead to vulnerability.

This article is from the free online

Infection Prevention for Vulnerable Patients

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now