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Promoting Hospital Patients’ Health in Jordan: Rhetoric and Reality of Nurses’ Roles

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Background: Hospital nurses are urged to promote patients’ health, but little is known about their role in health promotion in general and, specifically, no Jordanian study was found that examines such a role. Objective: this paper is a report of a study to understand and explore hospital nurses’ roles in heath promotion. Population: Surgical and medical nurses in a large Jordanian teaching hospital. Methods: A case study design using a multiple method triangulation strategy was used. Hospital nurses’ roles in health promotion were examined using focus group discussions, non-participant observations, interviews, semi-structured questionnaires and documentary analysis. Results: Generally, hospital nurses’ views towards their role in health promotion were positive. However, their perceived role and actual practice of health promotion were largely restricted to individualised information giving and behavioural change approaches. Diverse factors contributed to this situation. These included lack of time, shortage of nursing staff, lack of knowledge in heath promotion, a power imbalance between doctors and nurses, low public image of nursing and gender issues related to nursing. The way hospital nurses’ role in health promotion is currently perceived and operationalised in practice in Jordan is inconsistent with recent health promotion ideas operating at the level of empowerment and political actions. Conclusion: Addressing the identified barriers therefore, together with a radical reform from curative services towards a health promoting health agenda, is crucial.
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