Free health appraisal boosts RN wellness
ANA offers tool, list serve to promote health
It has become easier than ever for the nation's nurses to monitor their health — both personal and occupational. And this new knowledge may put a sharper spotlight on hazards nurses face every day at work.
The American Nurses Association launched a Healthy Nurse website, with a list serve and resources, and a free health risk appraisal. It integrates occupational health and wellness, and it is open to all nurses and nursing students.
"The main message is self-care," says Holly Carpenter, BSN, RN, senior staff specialist with the ANA in Silver Spring, MD. "Nurses are so busy taking care of everyone else, they often neglect themselves."
The health risk appraisal also provides a valuable snapshot of the health status of the nation's nurses. Initial results from 663 participants indicate that nurses have better health habits that the average American, but they have significant concerns about workplace hazards. Here are some highlights:
- Stress is the No. 1 workplace concern for nurses. When asked, "In my current work environment, I believe I am at significant risk for the following health and safety hazards," 81% of respondents cited workplace stress. More than one-third (36%) cited lifting or repositioning heavy objects, including patients.
- One in four nurses has endured physical violence at work. Some 23% of respondents said they have been physically assaulted by a patient or the family member of a patient while at work.
- Back pain is a fact of life for nurses. More than 50% said they experience musculoskeletal pain at work.
- Overall, almost all nurses report they are in good to excellent health. However, one-third have hypertension and 18% have asthma. Only about 8% of U.S. adults have asthma, according to the National Health Interview Survey.
- Nurses are more likely than the general public to have healthy habits. For example, 61% said they eat three or more servings per day of nuts and vegetables. The average American consumes vegetables about 1.6 times a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The ANA's Health Risk Appraisal asks about other workplace hazards, such as sharps safety, bullying, shiftwork and fatigue, and wellness issues such as immunizations, tobacco and alcohol use, and distracted driving.
After answering the questions, nurses receive a personal report highlighting their risks — green for low or no risk, yellow for medium risk and red for high risk.
"The HRA does not provide health care medical treatment or diagnosis and it does not address all nurses' health safety and wellness issues," Carpenter notes.
However, it can be a tool for nurses to improve their health — and become role models for their patients and community, she says. "One out of 100 Americans is a nurse," she says. "If we can improve the health of that one percent, hopefully it will spread out to the entire population."
[Editor's note: More information is available at www.anahealthynurse.org. Nurses can take the health risk appraisal at www.anahra.org.]