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Nurses should spend more time on preventing NCDs: survey

Nurses are the ‘front line’ answer to tackling NCDs but need greater support, says survey.

Nurses want to lead in the global fight against the further spread of non-communicable diseases but workload and time constraints are holding them back, according to a major new survey.

A total of 1600 nurses across eight countries took part in the survey, conducted by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and Pfizer, with 95 per cent stating they want to use their skills and time to educate individuals on the threat and prevention of NCDs. However, they said this prevention work would require time and resources they do not currently have.

"Nurses, in numbers exceeding 13 million worldwide, are the front line answer to tackling NCDs," David Benton, chief executive officer of ICN, said in a statement.

"They want to enable individuals and communities to enhance their wellness. We cannot afford to have nurses overloaded - if they are, then they cannot take the time to counsel and educate, and that is clearly counter-productive.

“With the globally escalating problems of NCD mortality and morbidity and soaring costs, governments around the world should not miss the opportunity to capitalise on the enthusiasm and expertise that nurses can bring to addressing this global health crisis. We must provide maximum
support to nurses, so we unleash their power to fight these debilitating and deadly diseases."

Other findings of the survey included nurses believing they should be spending significantly more time, almost twice the amount they currently are able to devote, on preventing the development or escalation of NCDs. However, nearly all nurses surveyed (95 per cent) are experiencing daily time pressures that they almost unanimously believe are having negative effects on patient health.

Nurses surveyed also thought that, overall, governments were doing a good job in beginning to address the NCD global crisis, but they also believed that, with the right support, nurses could make a huge difference in NCD prevention.

Paula DeCola, from Pfizer External Medical Affairs, said nurses were sending a clear message in their responses to the survey - if they get the resources and time they need, they can arm people with the knowledge to help them make the critical lifestyle changes that will ultimately help combat the NCD crisis.

"Four in 10 nurses believe that lack of public understanding is the biggest factor driving the spread of NCDs, more than twice as many as chose the next leading factor. Nurses need to be afforded the time and tools to get on with this urgent work."

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