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Health Education and Group Process in the Community


The health care sector has continued to face numerous challenges in modern times. Nonetheless, the health care providers have had to establish innovative strategies to meet the challenges that are observed in the health care sector. In recent times, nurses have been forced to work outside the hospital environment while discharging their duties. In this respect, the nurses work within a community context focusing on both individuals and families. In addition, there is an emerging trend where nurses are working with communities as their clients. In this case, the trends in nursing have significantly changed (World Health Organization, 2010). This article reviews the chapter in a book entitled “Using Health Education and Group Process in the Community”. This chapter was written by Lisa L. Onega and Edie Devers Barbero and covers pages 188 to 214 of the book. This chapter was published in the book “Foundations of Nursing in the community (Community Oriented Practice)” that was co-authored by Marcia Stanhope and Jeanette Lancaster.

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Chapter Outline

The chapter discuses various aspects related to health care. To begin with, the chapter outlines its objectives to the students. The main objectives of the chapter include a discussion on the ways in which individuals can learn. It also describes the effective principles and methodologies of issuing guidelines. The chapter also identifies the aspects that impact on how a group functions. In addition, the chapter analyzes the ways through which nurses can utilize groups in promoting health education. The last objective of the chapter is to facilitate the description of ways in which nurses can engage with groups in an effort to address health objectives (Onega and Barbero, 2010).

In achieving the above stated objectives, the chapter has been divided into various sections that address the different health issues. The main aspects addressed in the chapter include: Healthy people 2010 educational objectives; Education and learning; How people learn; Working to effectively educate groups; group concepts; promoting health through group education; Community education and its contribution to community life and Working with groups to meet community health goals (Onega and Barbero, 2010).

Healthy people 2010 educational objectives

In this section of the chapter, the objectives of “Healthy people 2010” document have been analyzed. It is noted that the document establishes various health needs that should be improved and how this is to be achieved. Notably, it has been suggested that community-based educational programs can be used in meeting and sustaining some of the objectives listed in the document. The objectives outlined in the Healthy people 2010 document emphasizes on the need to educate different individuals on health issues. It is asserted that once a nurse identifies the health issue in a population, the health education program should be designed to address the health issue that has been identified (Johnson and Kittleson, 2000).

Education and learning

Under this subtopic, the chapter emphasizes on the importance of information acquisition in ensuring improved health decisions. Knowles, Holton, and Swanson (2005) argue that education and learning are critically different aspects. In this respect, education involves establishing and arranging events that are critical to the learning process. On the other hand, learning has been defined variously. However, the notion of a measurable change in behavior that is continuous is common among the definitions. Therefore, it can be deduced that learning involves the acquisition of knowledge or expertise (Onega and Barbero, 2010).

How people learn

There has been a change in the way individuals learn. Initially, learning embraced the sponge or vessel strategies. In the sponge approach, the information was ‘spread out’ by the teacher for the one learning. In the vessel strategy, the one learning had to collect the information ‘poured’ by the teacher. Learning is an active process that involves the teacher and the learner. Essentially, the learners agree to information based on various factors such as their awareness, beliefs, and cultural aspects among others. In addition, social groups are also critical and they affect the learning given that learning is a social process. There are various categories of educational principles including “those associated with the nature of learning, the events of instruction, and guidelines for effective educator” (Onega and Barbero, 2010, p. 191).

Working to effectively educate groups

Essentially, groups can be instrumental in initiating changes for individuals, families, organizations and the community. Formation of groups is a common occurrence, and this can influence the aspect of health within the community. It has to be acknowledged that groups emerge for various reasons. In this case, groups form to achieve a certain purpose. Also, groups are formed due to shared values, interests and activities. The other reason behind group formation is personal attributes that act as an attraction for individuals to form a group (Northen and Kurland, 2001). Groups can either be ongoing or short-term. Groups can be used to bring change that would enhance individual or community health. For effective understanding of the community and its health care issues, nurses have to first of all identify the various groups present.

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Group concepts

The chapter identifies that for any health provider to work effectively with the community, he or she must understand the group concept in a comprehensive manner. In this respect, the nurse should know how to define the group, and understand the purpose of the groups, their membership, cohesion, and task and maintenance functions. Groups are critical in the delivery of health services to the community. Therefore, community nurses need to understand the dynamic s of the groups that they intend to work with in health care delivery (Onega and Barbero, 2010).

Promoting health through group education

Under this subtopic, the chapter offers a critical discussion on the importance of groups in health care delivery. In fact, it has been acknowledged that groups have an influence on the members. Groups can serve various purposes including promotion of health behaviors. In this respect, groups are vital in making an individual refrain from unhealthy behaviors such as alcoholism. However, some individuals do not have access to such groups that can benefit them due to emotional or social isolation. Such individuals are prone to health problems such as mental disturbances, low self esteem, and psychological disorders. These individuals can benefit from groups that are formed to handle certain issues (Onega and Barbero, 2010).

Social interactions are important in regard to health. However, negative social interactions have to be avoided. Just as the case in any other social group, negative, social interactions may lead to failure of the group to achieve the intended health goals. At times, there are groups that may oppose health such as friends who are drug addicts and not willing to quit. Such groups may be a hindrance to the achievement of health objectives. In this case, a member may be required to get a new group with members who are supportive of the health behavior (Tuckman, 1965). Such groups may include groups created by alcoholics who are willing to change—the Alcoholics Anonymous. Community nurses should thus evaluate the situation before choosing groups that can be incorporated for effective delivery of health in the community. When the existing groups cannot be used, the nurse should form new groups. The formation of new groups should be guided by health factors such as members suffering from the same condition can be grouped together and share health information (Onega and Barbero, 2010).

Community education and its contribution to community life

There is no doubt that communities are characterized by the presence of various groups. Some of these groups should be harnessed to assist in the provision of health care. This will require a spirited campaign by the nurses to educate the community and groups that have been identified on how they can assist in health care delivery. The community groups can be categorized as informal and formal. The formal groups have defined membership and are formed for a certain purpose. On the other hand, the informal groups have numerous ties, and they do not have unwritten purpose though well understood by the members of the group (Tuckman, 1965).

Community education is critical in the enhancement of life within the community. The nurses have an obligation of identifying the health goals for the community and ensuring that these goals are achieved. Therefore, community education is very critical at this stage. The nurse should plan educational programs for the community. In this respect, the nurse has to consider a number of aspects. This includes population considerations, possible barriers to learning and technological issues associated with health care delivery (Onega and Barbero, 2010).

Working with groups to meet community health goals

In this respect, the chapter outlines how community education process can be undertaken. The processes outlined in this chapter are critical in ensuring effective achievement of community health goals. They include identification of the educational needs to be addressed; establishment of the educational goals and objectives; selection of the appropriate educational methods; implementation of the educational goals and evaluation of the educational process. These steps are collectively referred to as the educational process. The steps are critical in helping the nurse come up with an effective working relationship with the groups to enhance community health. After the education process has been implemented, the educational product must be ascertained. This is the measure of the educational process. When the evaluation of the educational product is associated with positive outcomes in health status and health-related behaviors, such programs are said to be effective. However, when the outcomes are associated with no change or negative health behaviors, then there is a need to revise the health programs (Onega and Barbero, 2010).


This chapter review has revealed that health education is a very important aspect of nursing in modern days. The community nurse must comprehensively understand the community and its dynamics to be able to initiate an effective health program. The Health People 2010 document has served as a critical document in establishing educational needs and objectives. The ability to work with groups in the community aimed at facilitating health objectives is a critical skill that must be embraced by the nurses. Nurses require appropriate leadership skills so as to carry out community education that is critical to the achievement of the established community health goals.

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Johnson, P.H. and Kittleson, M.J. (2000). A content analysis of health education teaching strategy/idea articles: 1977-1998. J. health Educ., 31(5): 282-298.

Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F. and Swanson, R.A. (2005). The adult learner: the definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. San Diego, Calif.: Elsevier.

Northen, H. and Kurland, R. (2001). Social work with groups. New York: Columbia University Press.

Onega, L.L. and Barbero, E.D. (2010). Using Health Education and Group Process in the Community. In M. Stanhope and J. Lancaster, Foundations of nursing in the community: community-oriented practice. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby/Elsevier.

Tuckman, B.W. (1965). Development sequence in small groups. Psychol. Bull., 63(6): 384-399.

World Health Organization. (2010). A framework for community health nursing education. Web.

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