For Parish Nurses

Parish Nurse Research Update

 Dear Parish Nurses: Lent will begin in a few weeks.  Here are some articles that may assist you and your congregation as they walk with Jesus to Jerusalem during the Lenten season. 

1.  The Church Health Reader, in the Winter, 2017 edition, included an article on "Why Walk?"  Walking is the simplest form of exercise, and weather permitting, can be done outside on nature paths, sidewalks or tracks.  Other possible locations are malls, large stores or fitness centers.  The person has the ability to choose the length of time and the pace of walking.  Some congregations use a walking program  such as "Walking to Jersulam" for a spiritual Lenten focus.  The health benefits of a brisk walking habit include weight loss, stress management, lowered blood pressure, cardiovascular health, restorative sleep and improved mental health.  But consider the spiritual benefits - using time for prayer, giving thanks for creation, sharing with a companion walker, marveling in the body God created and developing a sense of stewardship for God's gift of life.  While many of us give up something for Lent, this is an opportunity to add something.

2.  When a nurse's privacy is breached by social media, (2018).  American Nurse Today, 13(1), 40.  Social media is here to stay, whether we like it or not.  Smart phones abound in all age groups; your church may even have it's own Facebook page.  The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has published guidelines for the use of social media - "A nurse's guide to social media" - that is available free at their web site,  ANA also has their guidelines available at   You may want to add either of these two documents as a guide for your practice.

3.  Zolot, J. (2017). Age, racial, and gender gaps are narrowing in alcohol use disorders, American Journal of Nursing, 117(11), 14.  This articled sumerized a  study that investigated the prevalence of alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and alcohol use disorder (AUD) among women, older adults and minorities.  (The original artical by Grant was published in  JAMA Psychiatry, 2017, 74(9), 911-23.)  Data on alcohol use from 2012-2013 was compared to the data collected in 2001-2002.  The results showed an increase in alcohol use of 11.2%, and the prevalence of high-risk drinking increase of 29.9%.  High-risk drinking is defined as four or more drinks daily for women and five or more drinks daily for men.  "For women specifically,the prevalence of alcohol use, high-risk drinking and AUD increased 15.8%, 57.9% and 83.7% resepctively, suggesting an 'alarming' narrowing of the gender gap in drinking patterns. Among adults 65 years or older, the prevalence of alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and AUD increased 22.4%, 65.2% and 106.7%, respectively.  Alcohol use increases the vulnerability of older adults to falls and injuries as well as to alcohol-drug interactions."  The author suggested that alcohol abuse is becoming a public health crisis.

This is a wake-up call for parish nurses as we interact with members of our congregations.  Be on the alert of signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse and refer those people for treatment.  Add questions about alcohol use to any assessment data you document in your members' records.

4.  Radtke, K. and Matzo, M. (2017).  Liberty and justice for all. AJN, 117(11), 52-56.  If your congregation has attendees/members who might be considered "unauthorized", AJN had an excellent article that dealt with ethical dilemma of providing care to this segment of our population.  The authors presented the issue by walking the reader through a case study of a young women who was in a vegetative state following a medical event of unknown cause and the ethical considerations when dealing with her parents who did not speak English.  Cultural considerations were required as the health care team guided the family through the decision process.

As a parish nurse, you may be called on to assist a family faced with making a life/death decision about their loved one.  ANA has an excellent resource, Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, which provides a nine-provision framework for ethical decision making.  If you do not have a copy of this resource, consider additing it to your library. 

The congregation I attend will begin a "Walk to Jerusalem" for Lent; it is only 6,873 miles from Denver.  With less than 250 confirmed members, we are hoping that we make it across the Atlantic Ocean!  May you begin you Lenten journey with prayer.

Andrea M. West