Nurses are expected to: “be aware of broader health concerns such as environmental pollution, violation of human rights, world hunger, homelessness, violence, etc. and are encouraged to the extent possible in their personal circumstances to work individually as citizens or collectively for policies and procedures to bring about social change, keeping in mind the needs of future generations” (CNA, Code of Ethincs, 2002 p.15).
Critical Issues that influence the health of our natural environment impact on all of the social determinants of human health on many different levels. It is important that nurses become very knowledgable and critically aware of the interconnectedness of the environmental health and human health and vitality. Being cognizant of the issues, nurses can then strategize together to formulate solutions and guide society at large in the same venture. Nurses from around the globe have been encouraged to keep the social determinants of health in mind, as a conceptual framework to assess the health of individuals, families, groups, communities, nations, and on a global scale ( World Health Organization, Commission on Social Determinants of Health; Public Health Agency of Canada).
Social Determinants of Health
It is critical to analyze how the diverse issues related to environmental health or ecology interact with the ability for humans to manifest healthy achievement of all of the critical social determinants of health. This list of social determinants is both complex and all-encompassing, and depends heavily on a responsive, plentiful, and renewal natural environment. There are additional social determinants of health (such as peace, social support and family violence) that are not listed. ( Public Health Agency of Canada).
- Income and Social Status
- Social Support Networks
- Education and Literacy
- Employment/Working Conditions
- Social Environments
- Physical Environments
- Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills
- Healthy Child Development
- Biology and Genetic Endowment
- Health Services
Visit the links below to explore key issues related to the environment, sustainability, quality of life, and human health in more detail. All of these issues should be studied within the context of the social determinants of health listed above and keeping the nursing role and responsibilities in mind.