Assignment: Applying Theories to Global Occupational and Environmental Health
Thus far in this course, many different theories have been used to address widely varied health problems. Climate change is one example of a global environmental issue that can affect human health in a surprising variety of ways: aiding in the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria, creating conditions that lead to potentially fatal malnutrition and diarrhea in large populations, and increasing the likelihood of heat waves and floods. Think about the myriad ways behavior change theories have been used to try to ameliorate the damage done to Earth’s environment. If you have switched to reusable shopping bags, stopped buying bottled water, or started using energy-saving light bulbs, there is a behavior change theory that could be applied to the process by which you changed your practice.
For this Assignment, you choose a theory presented in the course and apply it to a global environmental or occupational health problem.
The Assignment (4–6 pages):
Provide an overview of the problem and region you selected.
Summarize pertinent data about the problem and the affected population (e.g., incidence and prevalence rates, fatality rates, demographics of population[s] at highest risk, risk factors).
Select and briefly summarize a theory to apply to this problem.
Provide a rationale for your choice of this theory for this problem.
Apply constructs of the theory to the problem then explain how you would use these constructs to select an intervention.
Explain the strengths and limitations of the theory as it relates to the problem you selected.
Applying Theories to Global Occupational and Environmental Health
The knowledge of health behaviors plays a crucial role in implementing interventions to prevent diseases that emanate from ecological damage. The models help create health promotion programs founded on the factors that affect behavior (Barry & Honoré, 2009). The Ecological Perspective supports modifying the environment to eliminate the damage, such as pollution that contributes to poor health outcomes. Furthermore, targeted interventions empower community members to develop positive behaviors that prevent high mortality and morbidity from preventable diseases. Various theories are useful in addressing various health problems, such as the high asthma rate caused by the uncontrolled level of air pollution in the environment. While various theories could be useful to address the high rate of asthma in society, the Social Ecological Model is the most effective in creating a pollution-free environment for asthmatic and at-risk individuals, especially children,
Overview of the Problem
Asthma is one of the chronic diseases affecting the respiratory system and contributed to by, among other factors, air pollution. The characteristic of the condition is airways inflammation and narrowing, which irritants or allergens trigger. A person with the condition might have a cough, wheezing, tightness of the chest, and breathing difficulties (Nuss et al., 2016). Asthma is one of Louisiana’s most common chronic diseases, like in the rest of the United States. The disease in the community affects children’s quality of life and educational attainment, especially among students from marginalized communities. Socio-economic status is one of the determinants of health, making the difference between those who can and those unable to access health care services (The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, n.d.). Therefore, inequality is a common factor in causing a high disease burden that results from environmental damage.
Asthma is a cause of enormous disease burden in Louisiana and the US in general. The disease is responsible for almost two million visits to the emergency department and over 3000 deaths in the country per annum (Nuss et al., 2016). Among the American children, the current asthma cases are 8.4% of the total population of children. School-aged children are more disadvantaged compared to their peers due to the negative impact on their academic achievement. The disparity could be due to the tendency to be absent from school due to the disease and seeking treatment. In Louisiana, 8.3% of high school students are asthmatic. The risk factors for asthma in the state include harmful indoor and outdoor allergens resulting from the humid, subtropical climate and environmental pollution. Besides, Louisiana has the third-highest proportion of (66%) of low-income children in public schools (Nuss et al., 2016). As a result, the marginalization and low socio-economic status is another risk factor for the high disease burden. Hence, schools are the best setting to use the Social Ecological Model to reduce the burden, mortality, and morbidity of school-age asthma among children in Louisiana.
The Social-Ecological Model is the theory that would apply to the development of health promotion and behavior change campaign to reduce the rate and burden of asthma among school-age children in Louisiana. The model will design a school health promotion program to support asthma prevention and management interventions. School‐based health promotion focuses on the institution’s influence in creating health-related knowledge and behavior change among the target population (Rothwell et al., 2010). The program in the Louisiana context is the Louisiana Asthma Management and Prevention Program (LAMP), which improves the capacity of the state to control asthma by focusing on students. The social-ecological model identifies “multiple layers of influence on asthmatic students at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, community, and policy levels (Figure 1). The model provides a useful structure to help students and other school community members control asthma’s burden and improve the health outcomes of affected children and other stakeholders in community.
The Rationale for Selecting the Theory
The Social-Ecological Model choice is informed by the need to address the multiple components of the disease by creating an Asthma-Friendly School environment. It involves changes in the various levels and impacting the numerous factors that influence the disease. The model is readily applicable to schools in the state and elsewhere to give students the necessary resources to confront the disease (Nuss et al., 2016). The model will enable assessing the prevalence and risk of asthma in the state to control it and enable children to have a better quality of life. The model helps members of the school community manage and control asthma by modifying the environment to prevent triggers and helping students avoid any behaviors that could trigger attacks, such as exposure to irritants or allergens. The model will also support collaborative efforts involving all school stakeholders, such as teachers, parents, school nurses, students, and other staff members, to create an asthma-free environment at the institution. The stakeholders can create a collaborative environment to understand the problem and address it effectively.
Application of Theoretical Constructs to the Problem
The constructs of the Social-Ecological Model will apply to the problem of asthma in Louisiana. The constructs include intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and state/national. At the interpersonal level, students with asthma and those at the risk of getting the disease will be involved in controlling and managing the condition through behavior change and environmental modification. At the interpersonal level, the solution to the problem will involve parents, peers, teachers, the school nurse, and others involved in caring for students. At the institutional level, the school will implement the program to create knowledge and support for asthma management. The school will train teachers and other involved parties about caring for asthmatic students and those at risk to prevent them from getting the condition. The community, such as the school district, will support implementing the program to promote behavior change to prevent and manage asthma. At the state/national level, the government, health care system, and other policy-makers will participate in implementing the program to prevent and manage the disease by creating environmental and other policies to control asthma. They can work together to make the school a safe place for children with asthma.
Strengths and Limitations of the theory
The model enables intervention implementers to combine behavioral and environmental factors to create positive change in society and allow the interactions between personal and ecological forces that influence behavior. The theory helps implementers improve the knowledge about the factors that cause a disease, such as asthma, and how they can be influenced to improve health outcomes (Nuss et al., 2016). The model also allows people to understand the balance between the individual and environmental forces that can promote healthy choices, such as removing environmental pollutants that could cause asthma. Other advantages of the model are education for community members, promotes a cost-effective way of preventing diseases that could cost a lot in treatment, and encourages responsible behavior to promote healthier lifestyles. The model provides resources to individuals, including children, to take charge of their health.
However, the model has limitations since it fails to show how the various factors in the environment affect each other. The lack of an interrelation between the factors makes it difficult for stakeholders to understand how to implement the intervention informed by the theory. The challenge might make it challenging to understand the necessary environment or personal actions to prevent or manage a health problem. The cost of implementation of programs informed by the model can also be considerably high. Other limitations of the model include a lack of motivation to adopt positive behavior, challenges in changing lifestyles, and people might not believe in the need for change.
Behavior change is an essential factor in preventing and managing diseases that have an environmental connection, such as asthma; the disease is one of the chronic conditions affecting children in the United States. Louisiana is one of the most affected states, which could benefit from applying the Social Ecological Model to implement interventions to prevent and manage the disease by involving the person to change the environment. The model is beneficial since it consists of five factors that affect the disease and can be changed to promote health outcomes. However, it might be costly to implement changes based on the model. Regardless of the possible limitations, it remains one of the most influential health promotion models and behavior change to address health problems.
Barry, A., & Honoré, H. (2009). Everyday theory: A practical application of the ecological perspective. American Journal of Health Education, 40(6), 368–373.
Nuss, H. J., Hester, L. L., Perry, M. A., Stewart‐Briley, C., Reagon, V. M., & Collins, P. (2016). Applying the social ecological model to creating asthma‐friendly schools in Louisiana. Journal of School Health, 86(3), 225-232.
Rothwell, H., Shepherd, M., Murphy, S., Burgess, S., Townsend, N., & Pimm, C. (2010). Implementing a social-ecological model of health in Wales. Health Education, 110(6), 471–489.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (n.d.).Determinants of health: A framework for reaching Healthy People 2020 goals [Video]. Retrieved from http://healthypeople.gov/2020/about/DOHAbout.aspx