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Student ID: 823425053 1

Reflective Practice Assignment: Exploring Health Beliefs and Determinants of Health

Kristina Milaniak
Student ID: 823-425-053
Date: October 21st, 2014
NURS 103: Practical Nursing Theory 1
Instructor: Mary McGrory
Humber College ITAL

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As technologies and practices of healthcare develop and continue to change, it is

predictable that the view of healthy living, follows that pattern as well. Health and well-being
is a concept that persists to develop trends amongst society, which trend a person adheres to is
dependent on that individuals beliefs. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a leader in
developing the technologies that shape healthcare worldwide and is responsible for setting norms
and standards on global health matters (WHO, 2014). It provides support to monitoring and
assessing these trends of health that arise. The most commonly used definition created by the
WHO defines health as, a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not
merely the absence of disease or infirmity (Potter et al., p.2). Depending on the individual, this
definition differs by what influences are placed on their health. These influences are termed as
determinants of health (Health Canada, 1996). Some include, income/social status, culture, social
support networks, education/literacy, employment, physical environment, genetics, and gender to
name a few. In my opinion, amongst those determinants, healthy child development and
individual health practices, shape my overall belief of complete health. The following will entail
why health in my life can be defined as a complete state of well-being that encompasses the
body, mind and spirit to attain individual goals and satisfy basic life needs.
Health in my life includes being content with your body, mind, and spirit. I believe that in
order to attain this state of content an individual must have feelings of peace, adequate shelter, a
proper education, nutritious food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social
justice, and a sense of equity amongst others. These are all prerequisites of health that have
been outlined in the Ottawa Charter Health Promotion model (Potter et al., p.4). Physically, in
order to have a healthy body, I believe one must be an active individual, with at least 30-45min of
moderate to intense physical activity 3-4 times per week. Along with physically activity, a person
must maintain a proper nutritious diet. By following the guidelines of the Canada Food Guide
(2014), a person is able to utilize an outline for guidance to obtain a healthy diet. This guideline,
provided by Health Canada, is a more individualized approach to adhere to health trends, diets,
and cultures of different population groups. For example, vegetarian diets can use this guide,

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along with individuals who follow kosher diets as well. With adequate exercise and diet, one can
maintain a healthy body weight that will significantly prevent the occurrence of disease and/or
illness (Samuels, 2014).
Along with the body, comes the mind. In order to have ample health one must stimulate
the brain and be educated to have knowledge in good decision-making. Being literate can
influence a person directly, by being able to read a prescription correctly, and indirectly, having
the knowledge to use proper health services (Potter et al., p.7). Statistically, an individual with an
education has increased job opportunities, which provide knowledge and skills to solve problems
in stressful situations and gain sense of control in regards to income security. People with a lack
of education and literacy are more likely to be unemployed and use preventative health services
less due to lack of medical coverage (Tjepkema et al., 2013). Education and exercise of the mind
is present in my daily life. For example, being part of the Humber Practical Nursing program
educates my scope of practice and enhances skills that will teach me to be a successful nurse by
learning from my professors and peers.
My idea of health also includes the aspect of spirit. I believe that one must have a practice
that allows them to find peace or strength in times of hardship or sorrow. Culture would be
considered a part of my spiritual health. Culture is group of individuals that share the same
characteristics that can include religion, language, music, art, and different cuisine (Potter et al.,
p. 110). I come from a Polish-Catholic background. Although the religious practices that I follow
are very similar to the Westernized culture, there are minor differences. This gives perspective on
how individualized the concept of health is because the minor differences can have a huge impact
on how they shape the plan of care that is given to a patient. The Catholic background does put
much emphasis on prayer. In times of hardship and even when there is happiness, you pray.
Prayer brings a sense of strength and calmness that is needed to control stress levels, and this
maintains my spiritual health. During specific events, prayer is mandatory. For example, during
times of death or terminal illness, a priest comes to give the individual his/her last rites shortly

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before death. There is also a great importance on food. Food coincides with bringing family

together. Having a sense of belonging by being part of the Polish- Catholic culture also brings me
a sense of peace, and this enhances my overall spiritual health.
As mentioned earlier, the Ottawa Charter Health Promotion model defines determinants
that continually influence health on a daily basis. In my opinion, the determinant of healthy child
development impacted my view on health more predominantly than the others. Even though most
determinants have an influence on child development, this factor is separate because the
development of a child between the time of conception and age 6 is stated to be the most critical
aspect in shaping lifelong health (Potter et al., p. 9). Adequate healthy child development requires
equitable income, effective parents and families, and supportive community environments. By
being raised by a middle-class family that provided their children with a high-quality education
and supporting relationships, developed my views on health and created habits that definitely
contribute to my health. The Early Childhood Development Initiative that was created by Health
Canada is a prime example of how early health intervention is beneficial towards lifelong health
(Health Council of Canada, 2006). Overall, I know that I had a wonderful childhood that shaped
me into being the person I am today.
Furthermore, another determinant that impacts my daily health is the individual health
practices I perform. The three most detrimental factors that have been proven to decrease health
have been physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use (Potter et al., p. 10). With obesity
becoming a public health threat in Canada since 2010, I know that incorporating physical activity
in my daily routine is necessary to decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease, some types of
cancers, diabetes and other diseases/illnesses (Samuels, 2014). Potter et al. (2014) states that the
overconsumption of fats, sugars and salts contributes to increasing the risks of disease (i.e.,
hypertension) and overall, it limits the ability to perform daily functions as we age. Making sure I
have an adequate amount of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to create a well balanced diet, is
very important to me. I believe that moderation is essential to maintaining a healthy body weight.

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Even though personal health practices (like choosing not to smoke) can only go so far they do
have a positive influence on health. Individuals who have genetic predispositions,

musculoskeletal disorders, or any other diseases/illnesses do have challenges. However, with the
modern technologies available today, modified physical activity and proper nutrition is more
readily accessible to these individuals.
The concept of health varies from every individual and/or culture. This is why
comparative learning optimizes the level of knowledge one can learn about health. For privacy
reasons, I will not name the peer that I did my comparative learning on. Nonetheless, comparing
their Portuguese- Catholic culture to my own did address many similarities, however, there were
differences that need to be focused on. In regards to my peers religious background of
Catholicism, we share the same views on our faith, by believing in God, and how we value
prayer. There are minor differences where the Portuguese- Catholics celebrate and put more
emphasis on different saints than Polish- Catholics. For example, the Portuguese value and
worship Saint Fatima greatly, while the Polish put immense adoration for Saint John. The more
pronounced difference noted was how the culture of Portugal respects hierarchy. Both views of
the Catholic Church and family structure emphasize hierarchal relationships. The people of
Portugal respect authority and look for guidance from their elders when in decision- making
situations. Rank is therefore important, and those senior to a person must be treated with the
utmost respect. Generally, the Portuguese pose an enormous focus on family being the social
structure, and this is the basis of stability in this culture. By learning about the similarities and
contrasts between both cultures, it allows me to be more self-aware and conscientious, when put
in diverse settings. Self-awareness is a paramount trait to the multicultural society that Canadian
culture embraces, and this needs to be developed in my scope of practice.
Conducting comparative learning studies is definitely a beneficial practice that is
imperative in the nursing profession. Nurses are usually placed in settings of multidisciplinary
teams. Every health care provider has a different breadth of knowledge in regards to their

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practice, and being able to learn from your coworkers allows for constant learning. Not only can
you learn from your co-workers, one develops knowledge from patients. Getting to know and
communicate with your patients creates the appropriate plan of care in regards to treatment
(CNO, 2006). Comparative learning promotes nurses to be more culturally sensitive and

culturally aware when providing care. Cultural sensitivity alerts an individual to the difference in
culture, which allows for self-exploration of personal beliefs and what impacts those beliefs have
on others. While being culturally aware is the process of noticing that there is a difference in
culture. A well-educated nurse will possess both these attributes to provide culturally safe care
(Potter et al., p.113-114). This permits the nurse to successfully attain the patients expectations
to the health care they are being provided with. For example, with my knowledge of my peers
culture through the comparative learning conducted, I discovered that hierarchy is important to
the culture. I could use this fact and accommodate a plan of care, which adheres to the culture
and patients expectations. Therefore, the comparative learning creates a constant learning curve
within the profession, of what kind of care each patient should receive.
Ultimately, with thorough discussion, it is clear how the definition of health is highly
individualized. I believe that overall health is a complete state of well-being that includes the
body, mind, and spirit to attain individual health goals but satisfy basic life needs at the same
time. There are many influences that individuals encounter throughout their life that determine
what level of health they have. However, healthy child development and individual health
practices are the two determinants that factor in my belief of health more than the others outlined
in the Ottawa Charter: Health Promotion model. My opinion of health is different than the next
individual, just like every patient is unique in his or her own way. Comparative learning enhances
a nurses scope of practice by promoting self-awareness and creating culturally safe care. This
style of ongoing learning is imperative in health care as new health trends and policies arise. By
using the sources of a multidisciplinary team and the diverse community around you, one can
truly provide successful holistic care to meet clients expectations to attain. This all begins with
my passion to attaining good-health and what that means to me.


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