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Supporting student nurses to develop healthy conversation skills

02 November 2021
Volume 26 · Issue 11


As advocates for health, nurses are ideally situated to deliver effective health promotion in their daily interactions with people. This work evaluates the integration of healthy conversation training, making every contact count (MECC), into a health promotion module in an undergraduate nursing degree at a higher education institute (HEI). In all, 108 students completed the online questionnaire I year after receiving healthy conversation training. 67% of students reported the regular or occasional use of healthy conversation skills and identified a wide range of scenarios where they had used the skills. 65% of students used health action planning framework in their own personal self-care. Student nurses acknowledged barriers and enablers to their use of healthy conversation skills. Having knowledgeable mentors who role modelled healthy conversations skills in their consultations was the most frequently raised factor, in addition to lack of knowledge of local resources, time and confidence. All placement settings should ensure that registered nurses, especially those undertaking mentorship responsibilities have access to healthy conversation training.

The population in the UK is living longer, but many people, especially those living in deprived communities and with vulnerability, are living with poorer health throughout life (Public Health England (PHE), 2018). Although smoking rates have reduced in the UK, it is still the leading behavioural risk, followed by poor diet, physical inactivity, risky drinking and drug abuse (NHS, 2014). Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, data from 2019 indicated that approximately 22% of deaths in those aged under 75 years in the UK were considered avoidable; of these, 64% were preventable and the remaining 36% were considered treatable (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2021). Preventable mortality is defined as deaths that can be mainly avoided through effective public health and primary prevention interventions. This globally recognised definition of avoidable mortality was introduced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2019.

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