Evidence-based policy is public policy informed by rigorously established objective evidence. Just this last week, three reports provide convincing evidence for why America could stand to benefit from a National Nurse for Public Health
. USA Today
reports that obesity remains a far worse health condition in the United States than in Canada. Approximately 34.4% of the adult population in America is obese. Obesity is defined in this article, "Steady obesity epidemic plagues Canada, U.S."
, as being roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. Obesity is a defined risk factor for developing heart disease, the number one killer among American adults, as well as cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions. The data for this article comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is regarded as the most definitive assessment of Americans' weight because of the length and size of the study, and also because adult's height and weight were actually measured.
A driving force behind the grassroots movement for a National Nurse for Public Health has been the alarming number of Americans who are health illiterate. The complexity of our healthcare system requires informed consumers to make important decisions about their care, yet a 2006 study by the US Department of Education reported this month by the Washington Post
found that 36% of adults have only basic or below basic skills for dealing with health information materials. This converts to 90 million Americans who cannot understand the instructions on a prescription bottle or accurately interpret their discharge instructions. A National Nurse for Public Health could be instrumental in helping to deliver messages that help our citizen's stay well, as nurses are frequently tasked with providing explanations of care to the health consumer. Nurses also recognize the importance of communicating in language that people can understand and they know how to validate comprehension.
Finally, The Nation's Health
announced that an unprecedented federal plan to shift the nation from its present sick-care system to one based on prevention and wellness will begin this month! This will put a new focus on prevention, health promotion and wellness through federal policies and programs. Designating the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS, an existing position, to be the country's National Nurse for Public Health, establishes a qualified visible spokesperson to enhance public awareness for prevention. A National Nurse would encourage all nurses to become involved in the delivery of health promotion and illness prevention interventions on a broad scale in their own communities.
The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Thursday, March 03, 2011