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Health and Illness

The Black Report (1980) Townsend and Davidson (1982) as cited in Senior and Viveash, (2005) found evidence to support the view that the higher a person’s social-class the more likely they would have good health. The report used infant mortality rates, life expectancy, mental illness and causes of death of people in different social-classes. This indicated that at birth not every person shares an equal chance for a long and healthy life based on their social class.  Taylor and Field, (2007) stated that the Black Report was sanctioned by the Acheson Report in 1998.  The Acheson Report also recommended that the government should focus on reducing child poverty, income inequalities and poor living conditions.  Having low income can also affect a person’s health in midlife.

Ogden (2007) postulated that the lower social-classes have unhealthy lifestyles and behaviours, such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse that led to more illnesses and earlier deaths. The higher social-classes have values and beliefs that lead to healthier behaviours and lifestyle choices.  However, Davey Smith (2003) argued that morbidity and mortality rates are higher in adults later in life as a result of poor nutrition, social and environmental condition during pre-conception, infancy and early childhood.   A study was conducted on adults who contracted Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and it was establish that lifestyle choices in adult-hood such as smoking and alcohol abuse was not a significant factor in developing CHD.

According Ogden (2007) some psychologist believe that a child’s development is crucial at certain stages in their life. For example, Freud argued that if a disturbance or traumatic incident was encountered, the individual would experience the event as intolerable and repress it into the unconscious and the repressed experience and feelings could express themselves as a physical or mental illness in adulthood.

A part of the life course approach is death and dying. Kübler-Ross (1989) believed there are five emotional stages when someone was dying;  (1) Denial. (2) Anger. (3) Bargaining. (4) Depression and (5) Acceptance. These stages can occur in different orders, because everybody deals with death and dying differently.  Also, when having to break bad news to a patient it is helpful to follow the SPIKES strategy.

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During clinical practice, it would be useful to provide information on healthy eating and referring an over or under weight patient to a dietitian to aid in pre-conceptual and long term health.  A child nurse could watch for signs that a child has not develop good attachments to a significant person in their life or watch for signs of abuse or neglect and discuss it with the multi-disciplinary team.  If a dying person has religious beliefs they may request a religious leader visit them. This is something a nurse could arrange.  Being aware of the emotional reactions to bad news ...

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