Lifestyle health behaviors of nurses and midwives: The ‘fit for the future’ study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2018, 15 (5)
Issue Date:
2018-05-09
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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Nurses and midwives (nurses) are the principle role models and health educators for the wider population. This study sought to identify the health-related behaviors of the nursing workforce of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, compared to contemporary recommendations for healthy living and to the Australian general population, matched by gender and age. An electronic cross-sectional survey delivered in 2014–2015 recruited 5041 nurses through the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and professional networks. Validated health behavior measures were collected and compared to Australian National Health Survey data. Compared with younger nurses, older nurses reported greater adherence to fruit and vegetable guideline recommendations, but were more likely to be overweight or obese. Younger nurses (25–34 years) had the highest risk of harmful drinking. Compared with the Australian general population, slightly higher percentages of nurses met dietary recommendations and slightly fewer were obese, had central adiposity or smoked. Nurses had lower physical activity levels and higher levels of risky drinking across most gender and age groups. Many nurses have lifestyle health behaviors that place them at high risk for developing non-communicable diseases, sometimes at higher risk than the Australian population to whom they deliver health education. Health promotion strategies for nurses are urgently required.
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