Engaging Nursing Students in Health Promotion Research and Practice

Monday, 9 November 2015: 2:05 PM

Donna M. Callaghan, PhD, RN-C, GCNS-BC, CNE
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA

Title:  Engaging Nursing Students in Health Promotion Research and Practice

Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to highlight nursing student engagement in a nursing faculty member’s program of research. This program of research investigated the effects of three faith community nurse-led educational programs in promoting healthy behaviors in adults. Three pre-licensure nursing honors students participated in the implementation and evaluation of two of the health promotion programs. The development of the health promotion programs was based on the relationships identified by Callaghan (2003, 2005, 2006) among the variables of health-promoting self-care behaviors (Pender, Murdaugh, & Parsons, 2002), self-care self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997), and self-care agency (Orem, 2001). Two graduate nursing students assisted in the development of the program based on these identified relationships. The purpose of the program of research was to identify if attending the educational programs, which focused on spiritual growth as the foundation of health, would lead to an increase in the practice of healthy behaviors in adults.  

Theory: The educational program reflects the use of a supportive-educative nursing system, as defined in Orem’s Self-Care Model (2001), to promote the healthy behaviors of spiritual growth, nutrition, physical activity, stress management, interpersonal relations, and health responsibility, as defined in Pender’s Health Promotion Model (2002). Bandura’s Theory of Self-Efficacy (1997) directed the development of program activities that increase self-efficacy of these healthy behaviors.

Methodology: A family-focused program, held within a faith community, consisted of six two-hour presentations on the healthy behavior topics. Each two-hour presentation included one hour of Power Point information and one hour of selected activities to increase self-efficacy. A student-focused program, held within a university community, and an older adult-focused program, held within an urban community senior center, consisted of six one-hour presentations, 30 minutes each for the presentations and activities. A pre-test post-test quasi-experimental design was used to investigate the effect of the program on healthy behaviors. IRB approval was obtained through the researcher’s university and letters of support were obtained from each of the three intervention settings. The program participants completed a consent form and the study instruments, which included the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile II Scale and a demographic questionnaire, one week before and one week after completion of the program. A paired t-test using SPSS 20 was performed to measure the effect of the program on the participants’ healthy behaviors.

Findings: Four participants (two couples) completed the family-focused program with mean scores on the HPLPII increasing an average of 10 points but with a significance level of p = .075 due to the small sample size. Twenty-thee participants completed the student nurse-focused program with mean scores increasing an average of 18 points with a significance level of p < .001. Five participants completed the older adult-focused program with mean scores increasing an average of 16 points with a significance level of p = .002.

Implications for Nursing Practice and Nursing Education: The research results in this study indicated that the health promotion programs did have an effect on the practice of healthy behaviors in the participants. This program also introduced the faith, university, and senior communities to the practice of Faith Community Nursing as well as introduced nursing students to the importance of spirituality and self-care in their practices. The students directly involved in the research were engaged in the research process, program development, implementation, and evaluation, as well as service to the community. Opportunities for all nursing students to be engaged in scholarly activities such as these are essential for their personal professional growth as well as the growth of the profession of nursing.