The Role of Public Health Agencies in Addressing Child and Family Poverty: Public Health Nurses’ Perspectives

The Open Nursing Journal 30 Nov 2010 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874434601004010060


Poverty rates among child-bearing families in industrialised countries remain unacceptably high and have significant implications for population health. Both today and in the past, public health nurses have observed the impact of poverty on family health and well-being every day in their practice; yet, their perspectives on their role in addressing child and family poverty are currently absent from the literature. This paper presents findings of a qualitative descriptive study that explored perspectives of public health nurses in an urban Canadian setting about the impact of poverty on the well-being of children and families, and the potential roles of health organisations and public health nurses in addressing this issue. A key finding is the large gap between the role that nurses believe they can potentially play, and their current role. Barriers that public health nurses encounter when attempting to address poverty are identified, and implications of the findings for public health policy, practice, and research are discussed.

Keywords: Public health nursing, child and family poverty, determinants of health, vulnerable populations, health care provider perspective, qualitative methods.
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