At Risk Vs. Vulnerable Populations Essay

1196 words - 5 pages

What is the difference between a group "at risk" for poor health and a group considered a "vulnerable" population? Provide an example of a group at risk and a group considered a vulnerable population.
Explain why members of these groups cannot advocate for themselves or why advocating for these groups would be beneficial.
What would you advocate for?

The notion of groups “at risk” for poor health differs from vulnerable populations. “A population at risk is a population with a common identified risk factor or risk exposure that poses a threat to health (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2014, p. 189). For example, a population at risk for cardiovascular disease consists of all adults who are ...view middle of the document...

375). For example, a person with a chronic condition such as cancer or heart disease may already have difficulty managing his/her condition and have less physical ability to cope with stress than someone without such condition. He or she may also be at risk or have other comorbidities, with each affecting the other. Moreover, resilience may be further decreased by their marginalized or disenfranchised status. They may be unable to maintain a full-time job, therefore, have inadequate salary and live at or below poverty level. This, in turn, “has an impact on his or her ability to secure adequate and/or safe housing, essential health care, and pharmacological services” (Lundy & Janes, 2009, p. 616). Therefore, vulnerability results from the combined effects of limited resources, which create a more hazardous situation (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2014b).
Living in an environment with limited resources affects vulnerability in many ways. For example, those who are poor are continually faced with multiple risk factors that cause chronic stress, such as unsafe housing, repeated exposure to violence/crime, barriers to health care access (i.e. lack of insurance, lack of transportation, language barriers), and other limitations. Therefore, it is not unusual for an individual or community that is constantly bombarded by stressful situations to become immobilized. “In other words, they do not have the ability to effectively respond to even the routine activities of daily living” (Lundy & Janes, 2009, p. 621). Lack of knowledge or skills and financial or emotional basis from which to act further diminish the ability to master multiple stress-producing situations. Moreover, vulnerable groups who are disenfranchised such as the homeless or immigrants may not have the necessary support systems, which can in part “be attributed to the reality that some vulnerable people do not have well-established links with formal organizations in their community such as social service agencies, churches, or schools” (Lundy & Janes, 2009, p. 625). In many communities, these groups represent the minority, which places them at a disadvantage because “typical health planning focuses on the majority” (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2014b, p. 376). Consequently, these individuals tend to “fall through the cracks”. Therefore, when working with vulnerable populations, a nurse must assume responsibility to protect those who cannot do so for themselves and function as an advocate for those populations. Advocacy is inherent to nursing practice and goes back to F. Nightingale, whose actions during the Crimean War “were based on the recognition that vulnerable population groups were not able to advocate effectively for themselves” (Kelly, 2012, p. 166). As stated in Lundy & Janes (2009), “The overall goal of a...

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