PRAXIS:  "The action and reflection of people upon their world in order to transform it."

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Do New Zealand’s nursing students know how to access health
promotion services and look after their own health?

Kei te mōhio ngā ākonga tapuhi me pēhea te whakapā atu ki ngā ratonga
whakatairanga hauora, ki te tiaki hoki i tō rātou hauora?

Léonie Walker, BSc, MSc, PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, Massey University,
Wellington, NZ

Reference: Walker, L. (2019). Do New Zealand’s nursing students know how to access health promotion services and look after their own health? Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 35(1), 7-17.

The importance of health promotion and self-care to nurses provided the impetus for a project examining nursing students’ knowledge about services, their access to facilities and their confidence in signposting sources of help to other students related to health promotion.  A web-based survey exploring students’ knowledge and confidence in self-accessing or signposting others to sources of help with a wide range of health promotion issues was widely advertised and distributed to nursing students at all 23 nursing schools (including separate entries from multi-campus programmes) providing undergraduate nursing education in New Zealand.  Descriptive statistical analysis and comparisons between groups (age group, year of study and ethnicity) using 2-sample t-tests were carried out using statistical software within the Survey Monkey (Pro) platform. Nearly a thousand nursing students responded from across all years and from every nursing school. Respondents reported on service availability and health promoting aspects of each campus. Access to services and a healthy environment differed between schools. While there were differences attributable to age group, independently of age, confidence in giving health promotion advice increased as nurses progressed through the three years of undergraduate nursing education. Many aspects of nursing school campuses are less than ideal as health promoting institutions. Two key areas for improvement are the provision of affordable healthy food, and reinforcement of smoke-free messages. Additionally, issues such as gender diversity, financial management, shiftwork management and emotional preparedness all emerged as areas about which students needed more information. Given different age and ethnicity profiles in the different schools, a varied range of targeted health promotion education may be required.