The nurse's role in preventive care in the field of community nursing.

OBJECTIVES: According to published reports from the WHO, health care is undergoing a transformation that reflects the increasing importance of community care based on social, group, and individual needs. Community health care is provided by multidisciplinary teams, with nurses occupying irreplaceable positions. Nurse competencies constitute significant potential in the area of community based preventive care as well as the more traditional roles in treatment and recovery.

METHODS: Data was obtained from health care professionals and the public through a structured interview. The study population included 1,007 physicians, 1,005 nurses and 2,022 laypersons. Respondents were selected randomly with the aid of quotas. The parameters for the selection of health care workers (nurses and physicians) were constructed based on registration data from the Institute of Health Information and Statistics. Layperson selection was based on data from the Czech Statistical Office. The Statistical Analysis of Social Data program (version 1.4.4) was used to process the data, which was in the form of 1st and 2nd degree contingency tables. The dependence level was determined based on χ2 and other testing criteria (according to the character of the signs).

RESULTS: The results show that respondents perceive the concept of a "community nurse" as a nurse working independently in local neighborhoods and communities. Results also showed that work in senior care, followed by home care, and care for chronically ill patients were the most preferred. A role for nurses in health care education centers was only supported by 13.1% of physicians, 13.8% of nurses, and 6.8% of laypersons. The results also reveal that community nursing is perceived by both health care professionals and laypersons as fieldwork (i.e. work not based in a hospital or clinic environment), yet, at the same time, it was perceived as work that dealt with people needing health care. The results also reflect the opinion that the establishment of an independent nurse in the workplace (in the form of preventive care) could lead to an increase in the quality of care for employees (65.7% of physicians and 70.8% of nurses), an improvement in workplace health education (33% of physicians and 34.7% of nurses) and would provide support for healthy work environments (31.4% of physicians and 30.4% of nurses).

CONCLUSION: Our results lead us to conclude that the health care system in the Czech Republic needs to better utilize the potential of trained nurses in the field of community health care. Additionally, steps need to be taken to increase job opportunities and staffing for nurses wanting to work in community health and preventive care.

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