Nursing text a key contributor to community health

By SciBooks 21/01/2015


by Professor Jenny Carryer

 REVIEW: Community Health and Wellness, 4th Edition: Primary health care in practice
by Professor Anne McMurray and Dr. Jill ClendonMcMurray  Clendon cover

Elsevier Health Sciences
RRP: $90.00

This is a further edition of the already highly valued nursing text exploring social, cultural and political issues affecting individual and community health. As such it continues to be a gift to the profession; academics teaching in the area, students and primary health care clinicians alike.

While primarily a nursing text, this book demonstrates that both the how and why focus of healthcare and resourcing must be on more health care,  rather than more medical care, in order to reduce heath demand and ensure everyone reaches their full potential, regardless of health status.    As such it provides a pathway towards implementing a comprehensive primary health care focus throughout the health system and  should be compulsory  reading for  health economists, policy makers, as well as health practitioners and advocates.

The text effortlessly and skillfully bridges the New Zealand and Australian health and service environments.  In so doing it enriches its central thesis, which is to explore and expand a vital discussion of health as a product of the interaction between people and their environment.

The book is written in an extremely accessible style yet despite its seeming simplicity it deals comprehensively with a broad and in- depth treatment of every possible aspect of primary health care.

This edition of Community Health and Wellness features a common family case study running throughout the text. The Miller family spans Australia and New Zealand, providing vivid examples of primary health care concerns in both countries.  This technique increases the applicability of the more theoretical components of the book and will increase its appeal and relevance to undergraduate students

The text includes child health services and adolescent needs, the challenges of accessing care, contemporary family issues and ageing.  Important components such as gender and cultural inclusiveness are thoroughly addressed and made highly applicable to service delivery. Health literacy, health promotion and health education are also made accessible and relevant.  A real strength of the text is the attention to evidence-based policy, which is topical and not always considered as thoroughly elsewhere.

The text could have been further strengthened by some reference to the theoretical notion of medicalisation. Sociological literature makes clear that the tentacles of medical hegemony are a significant impediment to the full implementation or utilisation of the strengths of primary health care services.  They may also be the reason why funding continues to resource medical solutions rather than strengthening community health resources.

In summary the book offers readers a degree of global focus with special attention to NZ and Australia. All of the core aspects such as the Ottawa Charter, the Jakarta Declaration and the Bangkok Charter are included as contemporary health promotion guidelines for practice.  The life span approach ensures that the full breadth of primary health care characteristics is applied

The pedagogical approach in this text is a real strength.  Each chapter or section offers opportunities for deeper engagement, interaction and reflection. Extensive and very up to date references offer the reader easy access to further reading in each section.

Anne McMurray and Jill Clendon are to be congratulated on their ongoing partnership in continuing to keep this valued text topical and relevant. It is a vital contribution to the discipline.

Jenny Carryer is Professor of Nursing at Massey University and Executive Director of the College of Nurses Aotearoa. She chairs the National Nursing Organisations’ Leadership Group and has served on numerous Ministry of Health Advisory Groups.