Definition and Background
A Statement of APHA Public Health Nursing Section (1996)
This definition of public health nursing practice is an update of the 1980 statement. It has been developed to describe the roles of public health nursing and to provide a guide for public health nursing practice in the evolving health care system.
Public health nursing practice is affected by biological, cultural, environmental, economic, social, and political factors. As part of the health care system public health nursing practice is responsive to these factors through working with the community to promote health and prevent disease, injury and disability ( Appendix A).
The health needs of people in the U.S. and the role of public health have been addressed in public policy documents including the 1988 Institute of Medicine's The Future of Public Health, the 1990 Department of Health and Human Services's Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the 1993 Public Health Service's The Core Functions Project: Health Care Reform and Public Health and the 1995 Institute of Medicine's Nursing, Health and the Environment: Strengthening the Relationship to Improve the Public's Health (Appendix B). The efforts to plan an effective health care delivery system in these documents include a recognition of the unique contribution public health nurses make to the health care system. This definition of public health nursing is designed to provide an understanding of the practice of public health nursing in the health care system.